Roy Hibbert, The $58 Million Man
Not too long ago, the NBA world was buzzing about how the Indiana Pacers could ride Roy Hibbert and David West to victory over the seemingly invincible Miami Heat. In a league where teams are getting smaller by the minute, a squad with a 7’2” center and a bruising power forward presented a massive threat.
Funny how times change.
If you ask Pacers fans who they would like the offense to be run through this season, Roy Hibbert’s name may come up after those of DJ Augustin or even Gerald Green.
It is a strange turn of events for someone who was a popular commodity this offseason as a restricted free agent. The Portland Trailblazers made a strong attempt to pair him with LaMarcus Aldridge, but Hibbert ended up returning to Indiana on a four-year, $58 million deal.
Offensively, he’s been miserable. Hibbert is shooting under 42%, a number that makes no sense for someone who is 7’2” and should be living around the rim. He has never really been a polished offensive player, and has never shot over 50% from the field over the course of a season, but 42% just isn’t acceptable.
Worse still, according to Basketball-Reference, Hibbert has somehow figured out a way to generate negative offensive win shares. There are about 100 players to appear in an NBA game this season who have pulled off this feat, but only 28 have a worse total than Hibbert’s -0.3 offensive win shares. (Gerald Green is one of them.)
Hibbert was better in January, when he shot slightly over 46% from the field and actually had a few games where he resembled a $58 million player. He was efficient, for example, in an 18 point, 11 rebound effort against the Detroit Pistons recently, but these kind of games are overshadowed by too many in which he only converts 25% of his shots.
As bad as he’s been offensively, however, he might actually be inversely good defensively.
According to Basketball-Reference, Hibbert allows just 96 points per 100 possessions, which is the best of any Pacer this season and helps make Indiana an elite defensive team. And since Hibbert is a great rim protector it allows Indiana’s athletic wing defenders to gamble a little more. And did I mention that he’s tall?
As awful as he is this season on offense, his defensive efforts have been good enough to still make him a plus player.
The verdict on his season so far?
Despite being 7’2” and, historically, having a decent touch, Roy Hibbert has been offensively challenged to the point that we celebrate an 18-point, 11-rebound effort against the laughable Detroit Pistons. With that in mind, however, Indiana is a team that has hung its hat on their defense, where he has been great.
With this in mind, Pacers fans need to be patient.
Management brought Roy Hibbert back knowing that consistency will be an issue, and that has been glaringly obvious this year on the offensive end. Just keep in mind that he still brings a dynamic that many teams around the league do not have; a 7’2” big man who can force teams to adjust to him.
If he can find his touch, the Miami Heat still don’t have any sort of way to guard him.
Is that hope worth $58 million? Maybe, maybe not. But this season has shown both the good and the bad that come with Roy Hibbert