Indiana Pacers: Is Roy Hibbert Finally Emerging?

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Indiana Pacers: Is Roy Hibbert Finally Emerging?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For most of the season, Roy Hibbert has been inconsistent on the offensive end of the floor and he wasn't living up to the max contract (via ESPN) the Indiana Pacers matched during the offseason.

In the past six games, however, Hibbert looks like he's finally hitting his stride at the perfect time in the season. He has averaged 20.8 PPG, 11.0 RPG and 1.8 BPG on 54 percent shooting from the field in his last six contests (per Basketball Reference), while leading the Pacers to a five-game win streak.

 

 

Post Dominance

 

Hibbert is one of only a few centers left in the NBA who is highly effective at both ends of the floor. He's the biggest player on the court at all times, and nobody can stop him when his offensive game is going.

Nearly every shot attempt he takes comes in the paint or at the rim and his shots have been falling, as evident by his jump in field-goal percentage.

For the entire season, Hibbert has shot 44 percent from the field, which isn't very promising for a guy of his size and skill level. For the past six games though, Hibbert has shot nearly 10 percent better from the field. He has been choosing his spots better and getting better looks in the post, and he's only taking shots he knows he can make.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

 

Board Dominance

 

Hibbert has been great on the glass all year long, but he's been even better for the past several games. He's averaged 11.0 rebounds in just 32.4 minutes per game, which translates to 12.2 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Furthermore, he's over four offensive rebounds per game in his last six games, and he's been converting on the majority of his easy putback attempts.

Hibbert's defense and rebounding have been consistently dominant throughout the season, but he's been even better recently. He has been the anchor to the Pacers' No. 1 defense (per Hollinger's Team Stats) all season long, and his play on that end of the court is a major reason why the Pacers have a chance to defeat anybody in the playoffs.

 

 

Consistency Troubles

 

Prior to his recent string of games, Hibbert has been incredibly inconsistent for the entire season. For the first month of the season, he averaged 9.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG on a dismal 38 percent field-goal percentage.

For every good game Hibbert recorded, he would respond with a poor performance in the following game. For example, he posted a monstrous 27-point, 12-rebound performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves last month, but then followed it with a seven-point performance two days later against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Additionally, Hibbert has struggled to stay out of foul trouble, even during this stretch. He fouled out against the Los Angeles Clippers last night after playing just 32 minutes, and recorded five fouls in each of the two previous games while averaging under 27 minutes in those two contests.

If Hibbert wants to truly emerge as a legitimate threat in the league, then he will need to put together more consistent performances on a nightly basis.

 

 

The X-Factor

 

In the Eastern Conference, Hibbert is the biggest X-factor among every other player on a playoff team this season.

If he plays well, the Pacers have an opportunity to defeat any other team their conference. There's no other big men, other than maybe Brook Lopez, who could match up to the sheer size and stretch of Hibbert down low. Even so, Lopez is improving on defense, but he's still much less effective at controlling paint penetration compared to Hibbert.

In the playoffs, Hibbert is the biggest advantage the Pacers have over the Miami Heat and New York Knicks, who are probably their two biggest threats blocking their path to the Finals.

Hibbert's value and production will be even more important if the Pacers run into one of the two aforementioned teams. Neither the Knicks nor the Heat are good rebounding teams, as they stand at 17th and 25th in the league in rebounding rate, respectively.

The Pacers, on the other hand, are first in rebounding rate and average the most total rebounds per game out of any team in the league (per Team Rankings). Hibbert is one of the major reasons for the team's dominance on the glass, and he must match that production with dominant offensive performances as well.

There are no questions about Hibbert's skill and talent, but can he get everything together to lead his team to a long playoff run?

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