What's Wrong With Roy Hibbert's Game?

By Mathew Muncy
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Roy Hibbert, the 7-foot-2 center for the Indiana Pacers, became known worldwide last year during the Pacers’ playoff run. Yeah, he had his mishaps like when he said “No homo” during a press conference, but it was his playoff performance that had everyone talking. But all anyone can talk about now is Hibbert’s lackluster performance during the preseason, which has caused everyone to wonder: What’s wrong with Hibbert’s game?

17 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per playoff game propelled Hibbert to stardom. His defense alone made LeBron James second guess driving to the lane; not something many can say they have the ability to do. Most thought Hibbert’s playoff performance was his official coming-out party and thought he would continue his dominance in the preseason and then on into the regular season.

But the exact opposite has happened.

Instead of Hibbert dominating in the preseason, he has simply reverted back to the old Hibbert; the Hibbert that would shoot 2-of-7 despite all of his shots coming within the circle; the Hibbert who would commit stupid fouls and get himself into early foul trouble; the Hibbert who couldn’t grab 10 rebounds despite having a significant size advantage against most opponents.

In six preseason games, Hibbert has shot 19-of-54 (35 percent), has grabbed double-digit rebounds in zero contests — closest was nine in the first preseason game — has recorded not one assist the entire time and has scored in double-digits just three times. Not what fans were expecting after the photo of Hibbert looking jacked next to Tim Duncan began to circulate.

I’d love to be able to tell you that because Hibbert beefed up over the preseason, he now shoots the ball like the Hulk, but sadly, that’s not the case. For five-straight seasons, Hibbert has underperformed in the regular season, and during the past two playoffs, he greatly overperformed. He just needs to find that grey area, which to me would simply be 10-and-10 every night, which is not too much to ask for from a 7-foot-2 center who received a max contract.

Until Hibbert can prove over the course of 82 games that he is an elite center, then he will remain the same hot-and-cold player we currently know and love.

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