In the 2008-09 NBA season as Roy Hibbert was a rookie with the Indiana Pacers, it was clear that the behemoth of a center had potential. However, Hibbert was still developing in a lot of areas of his game and, to be frank, wasn’t ready to be a big-time producer for the Pacers as he adjusted to the NBA and a new style of play.
Fast-forward to the 2013-14 season, Hibbert’s sixth in the league, and things are vastly different. If you need any evidence of that, look no further than his game on Friday against an admittedly shallow Milwaukee Bucks team where Hibbert, in 31 minutes of action, put up 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks while shooting 8-10 from the floor and converting on all eight of his free throw attempts.
Hibbert’s effort on both ends of the floor was unreal on Friday night. Defensively, he was his normal self as he blocked shots, changed a plethora of shots at the rim, and crashed the boards. Offensively, not only was he efficient with his field goal attempts, but he also made the most of his freebies, something that the value of can’t be understated in this league (just ask Dwight Howard).
Though Hibbert is averaging the fewest points per game this season since his rookie year, there’s no denying that he’s an intensely more developed and more valuable player than when he first joined the Pacers. His potential is no longer waiting to be realized and now he’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate that can also affect the game on both ends of the floor. Hibbert is set to continue turning heads this season, so if you’re not on the bandwagon, I suggest you buy a ticket before it fills up quite quickly.