Roy Hibbert, a mammoth 7-foot-2 center that engulfs the entire paint, received heavy interest in restricted free agency just one year ago. The Portland Trail Blazers signed him to a four-year, $58 million offer sheet, which the Indiana Pacers promptly matched to retain their young center.
Hibbert, with a maximum contract under his belt, began the season with a bang -- except not the bang Indiana intended. In his first 16 games, Hibbert averaged 9.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while making just 38.5 percent of his shots. He still swatted three shots a game, an elite figure, but Indiana's offense, with little off the bounce creativity and an ineffective interior option, scored fewer points per 100 possessions than just two teams (Washington and Orlando) per NBA.com.
It was a complete disaster. Hibbert eventually reasserted himself on the offensive end, and became a dominant two-way force in the Eastern Conference finals.
Hibbert still has a few flaws in his game -- finishing at the rim, namely -- and he will continue to work with Tim Duncan during the offseason as he did in a previous offseason. That's probably a good choice, don't you think?
Via Blue Collar Gold Swagger:
“I usually work out with Tim [Duncan]. I like to keep myself a secret, but then I’ll go off to San Antonio to work out with Tim for a week or two, probably in August. He likes to get started after August.”
Hibbert and Duncan share many similarities. They're both really tall and play for small market teams. They occasionally miff the media -- Hibbert made a derogatory homosexual comment in a postgame conference during the Eastern Conference finals and, well, Duncan is just really boring. They anchor their respective defensive units, covering for their teammates miscues and deterring opponent penetration -- without their guidance, neither team would boast top five defensive efficiency numbers.
So it makes sense that they've became good friends. They even exchange scouting reports, and texts during the regular season.
It's a mutually beneficial marriage -- Hibbert, 26, can pick the brain of one of the most effective post scorers in NBA history. Duncan, 37, has an effective vehicle to help refine his game.
Hibbert is at a very different career trajectory, but he also shares championship aspirations with Duncan, whose losing prime opportunities to snatch his fifth title with every passing year.