The Indiana Pacers‘ struggles going into the postseason has been a hot topic around the league for weeks now, and although a statement win over the Oklahoma City Thunder is a good sign, the pressure will be on nonetheless. The pressure seems to be more on Roy Hibbert than anyone else, as he as not lived up to his All-Star status since March. Hibbert hasn’t recorded consistent numbers all season, but has especially struggled over the past month and a half.
It was bad in March, but April has been disastrous. In his past three games, Hibbert was scoreless in two of them, and only managed five points in the other. Scoring has been an issue, but no one would have ever thought rebounding would be a problem for him at 7-foot-2. In April, Hibbert has 12 rebounds total, something an All-Star center should be bringing down nightly.
Looking at these numbers and the way the Pacers have played during his stretch of poor play, head coach Frank Vogel might need to consider benching the once-called best center in the NBA.
This move might send shockwaves throughout the league, but it may be necessary. It’s one thing to have a poor outing every once and a while, but this guy is having problems recording even a single point. Something that Hibbert will always have is his big frame to block and deter shots, but is it enough to give him starting minutes?
One thing that makes the argument easier is Ian Mahinmi, who would take Hibbert’s spot in the lineup. Mahinmi has undoubtedly had his best season as a Pacer in 2013-14, and has proven he deserves to start over the bumbling Hibbert.
Mahinmi may not take too many shots in his limited time off the bench, but he is effective. In Sunday’s win over the Thunder, Mahinmi tallied 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting and collected five rebounds off the bench. In April, Mahinmi averages 6.7 PPG on 87.5 percent shooting (14-16), 3.3 RPB, and 1.0 BLKPG in 17.8 MPG.
Mahinmi may not be the best center out there, but he has been way better than Hibbert in recent months. Hibbert has the edge defensively, but as far as productivity and efficiency, Mahinmi is miles ahead of Big Roy. His athleticism and quickness give him the ability to chase rebounds and control the post in a much more effective manner than Hibbert.
You could argue that the move would cripple Hibbert’s confidence, but at this point, can we say he has any? When you’re being outperformed by a backup who has less playing time than you, it has to take a major hit on your confidence.
The move could be good for Hibbert as he would have less pressure and lower expectations with less playing time, and it could give him the opportunity to rethink his play style, his tactics, or something, because he obviously isn’t doing something right. It would also put him into a more appropriate role as he wouldn’t mean as much to the team’s success. He could have an off night and it wouldn’t matter as much as it does now.
Hibbert is hurting the Pacers with his horrendous play, and Mahinmi taking his starting position and minutes would be best for the players and team as they head into the postseason.