Roy Hibbert had some moments this season, didn’t he? He recorded a triple double against the New Orleans Hornets, but that same night Paul George tied Reggie Miller for most three’s made in a game. He also came out of the gates a bit slow on the offensive end, which worried a lot of people around here. My confidence in Hibbert never wavered. I said many times last summer, how the Pacers just needed to pay him, and move on. But then people were questioning his worth after not scoring enough points. Then again, Hibbert was never going to be a big scorer, so I don’t know why people would ask him to do that.
He’s going to be strong at times in the offensive game when his shots are falling. For whatever reason, his shots weren’t falling enough till about the All Star Break. There was a hand injury that became known, so maybe that was the problem. Maybe it was a head game with Hibbert as he’s just a mental guy when it comes to playing. There’s not much you can do about that, other than talk yourself out of it. But once that All Star time came around, Hibbert was looking better, and he did start to take off after that.
He came right around 12 points and 8 rebounds for the regular season. But when the playoffs rolled around, he looked to be more confident, and the Pacers made sure to use Hibbert the best they could. His stats after the Pacers got eliminated were 17 points and 10 rebounds. Now just imagine if Hibbert could put that together for the regular season, we’re talking another All Star for the team.
His game is all about getting in that rhythm and once he gets there, it’s hard to stop him. He’s going to get rebounds, and offensive rebounds seemed to be a big asset of Hibbert’s game this past season. Grabbing his own offensive rebounds or other misses of the team, Hibbert always seemed to be around that basket ready to rebound. He has really added another dimension with his ability to tip out to other guys. If he can’t grab the board, then he’ll at least get a hand on it, and another Pacers player will grab it.
And how about his work on the defensive end? 11 blocks against the Hornets in that triple double game. He even garnered some votes for Defensive Player of the Year. He made it known during the playoffs that most people don’t watch the Pacers, which is why he didn’t get more votes. Those comments weren’t exactly the best of times for Hibbert as he got under fire for that, and was fined for an use of a slur during that open mic. Just one of the few down moments for Hibbert.
I’d probably put up that little pushing match with David Lee of the Golden State Warriors up there as well. That was quite the game for the Pacers as they were slowly wearing down the Warriors, but Lee and Hibbert were going at it, when things escalated a little too much. Both guys earned suspensions because of it, and the Pacers would go on to lose to the Los Angeles Clippers, where you saw what a difference Hibbert could make as Chris Paul did whatever he wanted in the lane. That’s a key asset of Hibbert’s game, protecting the lane.
For next season, I think Hibbert has to just come ready to play. If he can get those playoff stats he had for the regular season, we’re talking All Star selection for him. He’s got to just be confident with his shot. I think with Hibbert it’s such a mental game, and this off season, he needs to get his head fully right. He’s a big guy that can be dominant against some of these smaller teams. I would look for the Pacers to work the ball to him early in games to get those shots going. I do believe next season, he’ll be right around that 15 points and 10 rebounds range each game out. There will be nights when he’ll get 20 or more, but for the most part, 15 is that number I shoot for.
I think he wants to become a better defensive player, and that’s really where we could see some big improvement. Getting a hand in the face of guys coming into the lane. Blocking shots away. Rebounding on the defensive side, so teams won’t get a second chance. Those things are where Hibbert excels, and next season should be fun to watch to see if he can get some more Defensive Player of the Year consideration. It should be a great season for Hibbert just like the rest of the Pacers’ starting five. I look for good things to happen, and I am already excited for next season.