Roy Hibbert: 10 Ways To Get the Indiana Pacers Center Out of His Funk
Roy Hibbert has had one of the best offseason workouts of any guy in the league. His workout routines with Hall of Fame big men, and martial arts training have gotten his body into the greatest shape of his life—according to him. He has also created a buzz with Pacers fans, something that hasn't been around since Reggie was still putting up three-pointers. So why is it now that he is struggling so badly? More importantly, how can he get out of this funk?
He has the size, the athleticism, the work ethic and determination, so why isn't he putting up the numbers? There are more than a few answers to that question, some obvious, some not so much. The organization was looking for him to step up and help carry the load of this team, along with Danny Granger this year. Indiana has had a miserable last six weeks or so, and Hibbert's play is one of the reasons why. He looked good early, but faded fast.
If the Pacers want to climb out of this hole and get back in the playoff race in the East, the success or failure of the team mirrors that of Hibbert.
Stop Getting in Foul Trouble
The best way for Roy to stay on the court is to stay out of foul trouble. Too many times he tries to block every shot, and gets into a jam. He needs to know when to pick his battles. If a guy has you in a bad position under the basket, just let him have the layup. Getting another foul and sitting for the next 10 minutes is not worth two points.
Too many times he gets "silly" fouls as most commentators would say. These are hand-checking fouls that he gets about 20 feet from the basket. The loose ball fouls hurt too, although you can't scorn him for his effort. Bottom line, just find a way to stay on the floor.
Develop a Shooter's Mentality
Guys that have the "green light" to shoot anytime are usually guards, occasionally forwards. Rarely do centers ever get that treatment, and for good reason. What Roy can do though is have the same mentality as those guys.
If you miss your first couple of shots, don't let it affect you. Keep shooting, and be confident that eventually they are going to fall. There have been multiple games this year where he only took six or seven shots because he missed his first four.
Stop Putting So Much Pressure on Yourself
Even though a few fans like me think that Roy is going to be the franchise player for this team in the next few years, he doesn't have to prove anything now. Sometimes I feel like he is trying so hard to be the leader and balance everything on his shoulders that it eats at him a little bit when things go wrong.
His offseason workouts triggered many people around the league to proclaim him the most improved player of the year before the season even began. I think he is trying to live up to those expectations, and the pressure is just too much for a young guy like him.
Focus on Rebounding 1st, Scoring 2nd
There has been a lot of talk around this team about its lack of depth when it comes to the big men. The team struggles offensively to even reach 95 points per game. They were getting virtually nothing with guys like McRoberts, Solomon Jones and Jeff Foster.
Now that Hansbrough has slid into the lineup, he is scoring a lot, which will only help take a little of the load off of Roy's shoulders. He doesn't have to put up 20 points per night, he just needs to rebound, and play solid defense, and everything else will take care of itself.
Demand the Ball, Be Able To Finish
The Pacers have been a jump-shooting team under Jim O'Brien. They are really easy to beat when they are one-dimensional. If they aren't getting the ball inside and making the defense sag on Hibbert, the shooters will not get open outside.
Roy needs to demand the ball down in the post at least every third offensive possession. Even if they just get it in to him, he can find the open man and get them an easy shot. If he is just there taking up space, the only thing he can do is try to get an offensive rebound, which often results in a foul.
Orlando has just started to perfect this...
Keep Working on Your Craft
Roy is not the only guy to ever play the center position in the NBA. There are so many guys out there that can offer him advice, and give him tips. If he can take the lessons that these guys try to give him, and use it on the court, it would be a tremendous help.
He has already been working with some Hall of Famers in the offseason, but he needs to continue to work, because he will only get better as a result.
Lead by Example; Show It on the Floor
Anytime there is a close game (which is about every other night for the Pacers) the last few offensive trips always go the same way. The ball will find its way into the hands of Danny Granger. While he is a great option to have, there needs to be more threats if the defense decides to deny Granger the ball.
Most of the close-game losses this year have come as a result of other players not wanting to step up and take a big shot. I know he missed the game in Golden State where they lost a close one at the end, but I know if he were out there, he would have wanted the ball in his hands. Not sure how many other players for Indiana can say that.
Take Over a Game; Make a Clutch Play
Making a big-time play in crunch time can do wonders for your confidence. Not only do you feel unstoppable during the moment, but it carries over into the next game, and the game after that. Hitting a huge shot or making a big play on defense in a tight game will give you such a rush, and can get anyone out of a funk.
If Roy can get the ball and make a play in the final minutes, or get a huge block on defense, we could see the same guy we saw earlier this season.
Expand Your Game
So many times players become almost like robots. They have a particular move they love, or they tend to develop the same habits night in and night out. That is when guys become predictable, and coaches are able to game-plan for them and take them out of the game.
Roy needs to keep working on his offensive game. He has shown he can finish down low, but you can also tell he has been working on his 10-15' jump shot. While he is not automatic, he is growing his game, making it harder for the defense to stop him.
Get a New Head Coach
While this may not ultimately lie in the hands of Roy, the organization is hurting the development of the players by keeping O'Brien around. The system is not right for this team, and that has been proven over the long, agonizing tenure of Jim's time here in Indy.
If he can consistently get the same number of minutes each night, and a more balanced offensive system, he could really blossom into something great. The pieces are in place around him, and if everything comes together sooner than expected, Roy could still take a giant step forward this year.