An Awkward Giant

Posted by By at 1 January, at 23 : 48 PM Print

Following in the footsteps of Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutumbo isn’t easy. Just ask current Indiana Pacer’s Starting Center Roy Hibbert, and he’ll probably tell you that those are some large shoes to fill. Unless of course you are Hibbert and you are 7’2” and weigh over 280 pounds.

Attending Georgetown University for his collegiate career, Hibbert began making a name for himself leading up to the 2008 NBA Draft. His strong play increased his stock but wasn’t growing quick enough to make him a lottery pick. Roy Hibbert was drafted 17th overall by the Toronto Raptors, who at the time were in desperate need for an inside presence to take pressure off of their star player Chris Bosh. In an unexpected surprise to Hibbert and the NBA community, the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers completed a draft day trade that would see the rights to the 17th overall pick (Hibbert) and point guard TJ Ford shipped off to Indiana with Jermaine O’Neal sent back to Toronto. This deal signified the end of Indiana’s hopes in their aging Center O’Neal. They were ready to give Hibbert a chance.

Hibbert is an awkward looking man. Standing 7’2”, it’s difficult not to stand out and if you watch Roy he looks very out of place at times. In his first year the league, Hibbert found it difficult fitting in as he averaged just over 14 minutes per game and started in only 42 of 70 games. He finished the season averaging 7.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 1.1 bpg. Hibbert looked like a fish out of water and no one knew for sure what his future had in store. Statistically, his numbers indicated another bust. Drafting a quality big man is one of the hardest and rarest feats to pull off in the NBA and it looked like Roy was just another role player in the making. In his second season in the league however, Hibbert stepped his game up and became more of a force down low increasing his stat line to 11.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 1.6bpg. He started in all but 12 games he played and took his spot as the official Starting Center for the Indiana Pacers. His future looked bright as he started turning heads around the league.

Coming into this season, hopes were high with Hibbert as he showed so much promise last season.  There is no competition for his job as a starter and he’s been playing that way. He shows confidence on the court, he plays big and he’s become a dominant force. He has increased his scoring; his rebounds and most importantly is averaging 2 blocks per game. He is becoming one of the best defensive big men and is making opposing teams think twice before they drive through the lane. It’s still very early in his career, but Hibbert is helping the Pacers mature as a team and together with Danny Granger, Brandon Rush and Mike Dunleavy is bringing respectability back to the Indiana area once again.

As the Toronto Raptors are still searching for the dominant big man they always wanted (Andrea Bargnani plays more outside), the Pacers appear to have made the right move in trading for the 17th pick and TJ Ford. Both pieces they received in the deal are still on their roster while Jermaine O’Neal is now playing for the Boston Celtics. Roy Hibbert is still raw and young and will need more time to mature into an All-Star. His numbers are solid and his game is getting better each passing week.

With minimal competition at the Center position in the Eastern Conference, Hibbert has a chance to become quite the force down low. It’s up to him whether he is up to the challenge or whether he will remain that awkward looking kid out of Georgetown still trying to find his place on the court.

As an update to this recently posted piece on Hibbert, it appears as though his career has again been dealth a hurdle. Indiana intends on playing small ball all season long and it looks like Roy will be playing a secondary roll as opposed to the starting roll he has had all season. This comes as a surprise to many as Hibbert’s stock was rising so quickly. Lately, however he has been in a major slump and has now become a victim of his poor play.

The Bowse's Word

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