Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert needed some added fuel, so he experimented with a motivational method that's been practiced for years.
Hibbert created a goal in his mind and dangled that carrot in front of himself. It was really no different than the scribbled hopes dotting mirrors, bulletin boards and refrigerators around the globe.
Only, he did it in 2013—a time when sticky notes have gone digital and personal bulletin boards are now put in front of a worldwide audience.
Hibbert took to Twitter and made it known that he has a certain award on his mind:
DPoY. Goodnight!— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) November 7, 2013
Apparently, because this is Twitter we're talking about, his words weren't received quite the way he expected:
People act like I can't have individual goals. I didn't talk about it in the past. Well now I am. I WANT DPoY. That's gonna help my team win— Roy Hibbert (@Hoya2aPacer) November 7, 2013
Now, the big man's angry. And opposing players don't like it when he's angry.
The 7'2", 278-pound monster in the middle is sending shots back like bad fish. He's leading the league with 4.78 blocks per game, and it's not even close. Anthony Davis (3.11) is the only other player averaging better than three.
Hibbert's 43 swats on the season are more than 15 teams have managed. If that's not impressive enough, consider the fact that he's doing this while playing fewer than 30 minutes a night. Simply stretching that figure over 36 minutes would push his blocks average to 5.8:
Weird thing: went to look up Roy Hibbert's block rate, and my laptop just started screaming in terror.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 16, 2013
Only eight players in league history have ever finished a season with at least 4.0 blocks per game. Move that threshold up to Hibbert's current 4.8 mark, and only three players (Mark Eaton, Manute Bol and Elmore Smith) are left standing.
The last player to average 4.0 blocks was Dikembe Mutombo in 1995-96 (4.5). Only two others (David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon) have accomplished that feat since 1990. These three players claimed seven Defensive Player of the Year awards during their careers.
Who will win the 2013-14 DPOY race?
Now, obviously there's more to defense than just shot-blocking. But all defensive metrics are doing justice to Hibbert's prediction right now.
Opposing centers have posted a meager 9.0 player efficiency rating against him—league average is 15.0—this season, via 82games.com. He's holding opponents to just 34.1 percent shooting at the rim, via NBA.com, tied for the third-lowest mark among all players with at least five point-blank attempts against them per game.
He's the anchor of the league's stingiest defense, both by conventional measures (83.7 points per game, 38.6 percent shooting against) and advanced statistics (88.8 defensive rating).
Hibbert's not just the front-runner for the award, he might be running unopposed.
But complacency doesn't appear to be in his future. Not with that digital reminder always there to fuel his fire.