Beware the Fall of Roy
Let’s turn back the clock a year – actually a little more than a year – to December 12th, 2010. An Eastern Conference basketball team is above .500 for the first meaningful time in years and their resurgence is being led by an awfully tall young man whose stellar play is garnering all sorts of All-Star and Most Improved Player talk. He’s averaging 15 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2 blocks per game. But he and his team are about to take a handbasket ride to Montana’s capital.
We are, of course, talking about Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers. Over the next 23 games, Hibbert would shoot 36% while averaging 9.8 points, 7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.6 blocks. The team finished this stretch with a 6-17 record and a new head coach. Needless to say, it was an incredibly ugly stretch of basketball for Pacer fans that led some to doubt whether the team should move forward with Hibbert in the middle. Hibbert’s play picked up after Frank Vogel took over, but it never again reached the heights of the first 21 games.
This being the case, you’ll have to forgive me if the team’s recent 3 game losing streak (all of which featured sub-par games from Hibbert) looks frighteningly familiar.
To look a little closer let’s use John Hollinger’s Game Score metric. As a point of reference, consider a score of 10 to be an average overall score. Over the first 21 games of the ’10-’11 season, Hibbert had an average game score of 12.75. He was an above average player. He posted 5 single digit game scores. During the next 23 games, he had an average game score of 5.43 and posted single digit scores in 19 of 23 games. It should be noted that Hibbert’s minutes did decrease during this time and that game score is a whole game, rather than a per minute , stat. The decrease in minutes, however, was a result of Hibbert’s ineffectiveness rather than injury or excessive foul trouble.
Through 21 games this season, Hibbert was averaging 14 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.8 blocks with an average game score of 11.6. He had 8 games with single digit game scores. In the last 6 games, Roy has posted 5 single digit game scores. The Pacers have gone 2-4 during that stretch.
As Pacer fans, we all need to start praying to Zeus no horses have been delivered to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse recently.