Will the real Roy Hibbert please stand up?
If you've been following Roy Hibbert throughout the 2012-13 NBA season, you should know the spotlight is on the fifth-year pro out of Georgetown University after the Indiana Pacers matched a four-year offer worth $58 million tendered by the Portland Trail Blazers.
One may be tempted to say it may be too early for management and fans to analyze the situation and figure out if Hibbert was worth the huge investment the Indiana Pacers made in locking him up for the next four years.
However, $58 million—the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement—is nothing to scoff at.
Having said this, someone with that enormous price tag is expected to deliver the goods as soon as possible, especially if his team is an a position to contend for the NBA championship like the Indiana Pacers are.
For the purposes of this article, the context will be within the first 78 games of the 2012-13 NBA regular season. Not an exhaustive basis considering Hibbert has a little more than three years remaining in his contract, but it should give an idea of what to expect from him while in an Indiana Pacers uniform.
Naturally, one basis would be performance. The current season didn't start out favorably, to say the least. He averaged only 9.5 points per game while shooting only 37.8 percent from the floor in November.
Hibbert himself admitted on Twitter on November 28 his early play was nothing to be proud of:
It's round 4am n I'm laying in bed. Can't sleep. I understand why people r frustrated with my play of late. Been having a rough stretch.
— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) November 28, 2012
The funk lasted until February when he registered season-lows in rebounds (7.2) and free-throw shooting percentage (69.6). There were also several occasions when Paul George, a small forward, routinely outrebounded Hibbert. Maddening, to say the least.
And then somebody flipped the switch.
After the All-Star break, Hibbert has been averaging 16.1 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game on 51 percent shooting. He's having his best month in April with an average of 20.3 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game on almost 62 percent shooting from the field.
Here's the clincher: the Indiana Pacers are 49-29 and are currently ranked third in the Eastern Conference. This is thanks in large part to a 17-8 record since the All-Star Break, around the same time Hibbert began to hit his stride.
Had Indiana stumbled during this stretch, it would have been scrambling for a lower playoff seeding, no doubt about it.
Is this also saying the team's success lies solely on Hibbert's performance? No. Anybody on the starting unit can step up when need be.
If Hibbert is off, the Pacers are an above-average team.
If Hibbert is on, the Pacers have a chance to contend.
Check out what coach Frank Vogel had to say on the team's official website on April 3:
He's a big part of what we're doing on both ends of the court but I've always said, we've got a variety of weapons. Our team is not going to sink or swim with Roy Hibbert's offense. But when he's going like he's going, we're awful tough to beat, no matter who we're playing or where we're playing.
And here's the value of having a Roy Hibbert on your squad: even if he is on one of those off-nights offensively, he can still swat (currently fourth in the NBA at 2.6 blocks per game) and at the very least alter opposing shots.
This is one of the reasons why the Indiana Pacers wanted him to stay. And wouldn't you know it, Big Roy is one of the main cogs behind Indiana's second-ranked team defense, allowing only 90.2 points per game through April 11.
Finally, he is also an asset to the Indianapolis community—a great role model. He has been visible in a number of charity events ranging from a softball game for the benefit of the Indiana Children's Wish Fund to giving out free tickets to blood donors for the Roy Hibbert Blood & Bone Marrow Drive.
Who would want a $58-million star that is troublesome off the court? The last thing fans want to reminisce is another incident which gives the team a bad name, such as the bar fight which Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels were involved in six years ago.
Is Roy Hibbert worth the Indiana Pacers' big money?
Oh, and the scuffle Hibbert got into with the Golden State Warriors' David Lee on February 26? It's not in his nature to stir up trouble. Clearly, Lee got under his skin and it's now all in the past.
Since he first donned a Pacers uniform in 2008, he has had an otherwise clean slate. Look for this trend to continue.
Roy Hibbert is delivering the goods in terms of his on-court and off-court performance. More notably, the Indiana Pacers are also winning and poised to make some noise in the NBA playoffs.
On this note, he is worth the team's big money based on the first 78 regular-season games.
The bigger challenge for Big Roy is to up the ante in the next few seasons in an attempt to bring the Indiana Pacers back to elite status.
Absolutely something to look forward to.