Was Roy Hibbert Really That Good To Begin With?


The biggest story thus far of the 2014 NBA Playoffs on the court arguably has been the disappearance of Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert. Last night, Hibbert recorded his third postseason game with 0 points and posted his second playoff game without grabbing a single rebound in Indiana's 102-96 loss to the Washington Wizards.

It was the continuation of an absolutely atrocious postseason thus far for the center out of Georgetown, and last night's performance was possibly the worst yet. With Nene and Marcin Gortat in Washington's front court — two of the more traditional, down-low players in the NBA — Hibbert was expected to be more of a factor than he was against an Atlanta Hawks squad that posed match-up problems in the first round. Not so, as Hibbert managed to once again put up donuts while committing five fouls in less than 18 minutes last night, keeping up his shockingly unproductive play.

Through eight games thus far this playoff season, Hibbert is averaging an embarrassing 4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game on 35.6 percent shooting. He's gotten to line just eight times total in eight games, despite being 7'2" and 278 pounds, and he's seen his minutes drop from nearly 30 minutes a night during the regular season to just 21 a night this postseason.

It's an astonishing lack of production for a guy who made his second All-Star Game this very season. Or is it? OK, so no 7'2" man should go without a rebound under any circumstance, but at the end of the day, was Roy Hibbert really ever that good to begin with at the NBA level?

When you take a closer look at things, the answer may actually surprise you. Despite making his first All-Star game in 2012 and his second this season, Hibbert has never even put up average numbers for a "star" center in the NBA. For starters, Hibbert has never averaged more than 12.8 points per game in his career, and his high-water mark for rebounds stands at 8.8 points per game. Those are pedestrian numbers for any center, let alone a 7'2" center. I mean, how in the world can he be considered All-Star worthy without ever even averaging double digits in rebounds?

Beyond that, Hibbert is a terrible shooter for a big man, with a career field goal percentage of 46.7 percent. That's coming from a guy who takes nearly all his shots at the basket. In fact, his only redeeming qualities are his well above average foul shooting for a big — 73.7 percent career — and his rim protection, blocking nearly two shots a game for his career.

But at the end of the day, Hibbert has been nothing more than an average at best center. Even during his best season in 2011-12, he averaged only 12.8 points and 8.8 boards while shooting 49.7 percent and posting a 19.3 PER — all career highs. That means his best season wasn't even as good as Pau Gasol THIS YEAR.

Plain and simple, Roy Hibbert has never been very good to begin with. He's big, sure, and can protect the rim when he's out there — but the guy can't even get enough run to have the impact you'd expect from a two-time All-Star over 7 feet tall. He's never even averaged 30 minutes a game, mainly because he is not quick enough or athletic enough to stay with the more agile bigs in today's NBA. And his conditioning and lack of offensive versatility prevent him from dominating in the way you'd expect for such a big body.

At the end of the day, Roy Hibbert can't score all that well, can't rebound all that well, can't move all that well and can't dominate at all. He's basically a bigger, slower, less athletic but more offensively refined Theo Ratliff — a shot blocker and not much else. Except Hibbert can't even stay with the majority of today's NBA bigs, because the days of slow, plodding centers are mostly a thing of the past.

So while there is absolutely no excuse for Roy Hibbert to put up donuts and have completely no effect on games, it's not as if we're dealing with a true star losing his fastball. Roy Hibbert was never that good to begin with, and he's driving that point painfully home this postseason.

Related: Former NBA Players Blast Roy Hibbert (Indy Star)

6 Replies to “Was Roy Hibbert Really That Good To Begin With?”

  1. All good points on Hibbert. I'm concerned about him needing motivation. He can play but when he decided to be a finesse big instead of a banger I knew he was going to struggle. You hit the nail on the head with the limitations of his offensive skill as well. He was a better player when his roles were delegated to shot blocking and rebounds. Now that he's expected to score he has become a liability.

    1. What's strange is I'm actually a Hibbert fan. Not so much right now, but I like his game when he's motivated and in it. As @DennisGlade_TH pointed out to me, Hibbert averaged 17/10/2 last postseason and was a handful in the ECF. He has potential to be better than he is, but he really needs to slim down to get more mobile and work on his offensive game - on top of simply working harder on the court. His rebounding numbers are appalling for a 7'2" two-time all-star. Just appalling.

  2. It seems to me that the media anointed Hibbert too soon in hopes that he would become the next great or at least very good big man. Look through the history of the NBA and every era has had seven footers who have dominated. That has become an archetype. Dwight Howard had fallen out of favor, Andrew Bynum did the same, and Hibbert looked to be coming into his own. He hasn't, obviously. But those initial thoughts of greatness have skewed our view of the player.

    1. I agree. And Indiana's success last season, particularly the ECF against Miami where they took the Heat the distance and Hibbert performed well, also expedited that process of expecting him to be great, in my opinion.

  3. Hibbert was honestly average at best if looking at his full range of skills. Defensively he was pretty solid, and filled a niche for them, but between the hype, and the Dwight Howard freeze (let's not pretend like folks weren't trying to find anyone to crown over Howard), and Hibbert is pretty much what he always was.

    Hell he's actually worse, because despite the fact that he has been terrible scoring, he isn't even doing the things he was once great at. At 7+ feet, it shouldn't be a question of whether he'll be able to grab 5 rebounds a game, and yet here we are.

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