Roy Hibbert's Monster Game Against the Bucks the Beginning of a Resurgence?
There are all sorts of different designations for NBA players who fill up the columns in a boxscore - the triple-double, the double-double, a 20/10 guy, and so forth. Roy Hibbert had us scrambling Saturday night after his monster game against the Bucks, when he led the Pacers' winning effort with 20 points, 15 rebounds (including 11 off the offensive glass) and five blocks. Yes, the old 20-15-10-5 game, representing points, rebounds, offensive rebounds and blocks - something that has not been seen in the NBA since Dec. 5, 2008, when Dwight Howard produced 21 points, 23 rebounds (including 10 offensive) and six blocked shots in a win over the Thunder.
Hibbert became the first player in the Pacers' NBA history to achieve such a game; in fact, it's only the 29th such game, produced by just 16 different players, in the 40 seasons since the league began recording blocked shots and offensive rebounds in 1973.
It was a redemptive game for Hibbert. The fan reaction to his max contract offer from the Portland last summer was mostly negative. The general feeling around NBA circles was even more unkind, and his well-documented substandard start to the season only fanned the flames of doubt.
While it 's true that Hibbert has not to be a game at this point in his career, it is also true that having an 7 '2" in today's NBA where dedicated centers are a rare breed is hugely important and holds immense value in itself.
Hibbert is a piece the Pacers can continue to develop and build around. His defensive game is strong. His scoring touch has been off for the first part of the 2012-2013 season, but his passing game has been and will be equally as strong as his defense.
The Pacers could have let Hibbert go to Portland and made a hard charge for Omer Asik, who would have come much cheaper, but Asik was an unknown quantity, having only started two games in the NBA at that time.
The Pacers decided to pay more money to re-sign their own center who had already established his level of play.
Of course, his play in 2012 up until his monster game against the Bucks was so far below level as to be nearly imperceptible from those lofty heights—bottoming out with a fourth benching by coach Frank Vogel in the Pacers' December 29 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Theories attempting to explain Hibbert's substandard play abound. It is natural to consider that the pressure of his new max contract might be playing a role. There is also the nagging wrist injury.
If it's the contract, his performance against the Bucks will do wonders to boost his confidence, a confidence boost being all he would need.
If it's the wrist, he assuaged those concerns by recently saying, "I'm feeling good across the board. I think it 's coming along."
Whether or not his performance against the Bucks was him turning the corner or just a momentary blip remains to be seen. What we know is that Hibbert has been working tirelessly to improve his offensive game since the benching in Atlanta and that, at that point, he had nowhere to go but up.
The question of whether or not his performance will stay elevated will be answered when the NBA champion Miami Heat come into the Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
I, for one, am expecting another good game from the big man.
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