It’s our fault. To some extent, it is not his either. Really, shame on us, all of us, for thinking that Roy Hibbert was any good at the game of basketball. Because of that, though, now the Indiana Pacers are hurting because of it and the expectations of what we thought Roy Hibbert was or should be.
As of this moment, it is no secret. Hibbert is struggling. In last night’s loss to the Washington Wizards, Ho-Hum Hibbert (nickname patent pending) only played 18 minutes and had a plus/minus of a negative 17. Meaning, Hibbert has parlayed his first-round series worth of being a liability into a second-round train of frustration that has no stop in sight, sans a seemingly likely early NBA Playoffs exit.
What is surprising about all of this, though, is the fact that we are acting like Roy Hibbert being this limited, is a surprise.
Somehow, through tricks, a contract of four-years and $58 million, Miami Heat narratives, we convinced ourselves that Hibbert was going to put Indiana over the top. Maybe not last season, possibly not this one, but eventually Roy Hibbert was going to be the primary reason the Pacers got through the Heat in the Eastern Conference.
Why? Because size, and the lack thereof on Miami’s roster. Which, you know, completely ignores nearly everything that is going on in the NBA at the moment.
The game is played in a much smaller, quicker fashion. Outside of our unusual excitement over the prospect of having a legitimate NBA center in our grasps, there happen to be no stats that back up the idea that should leave us with the impression that having a big equals NBA Titles.
I mean, despite having zero real bigs of consequence, it has not hurt the Miami Heat from winning two NBA Titles in a row. Before that, you can point to the San Antonio Spurs as having a big, Tim Duncan, which would prove that having a big matters. It would also be ignoring the fact that Duncan is a generational type of player, possibly the greatest power forward who has ever played the game, and that Roy Hibbert is none of those things.
Hibbert is much closer to being the guy we all thought he was at Georgetown than he is of the All-Star NBA center we mention right before we act puzzled about his play on the court.
While with the Hoyas, Hibbert could barely get up and down the court. Being a 7’2″ behemoth would do that to a person. It is not like there’s a slew of 7-footers walking the Earth who are as athletic as Shaq was or encompassed the wonderful footwork that Hakeem Olajuwon did.
But, still, we wanted to think Hibbert was a major factor. A player of consequence. Despite nothing to back it up, we needed the Miami Heat to have competition in the Eastern Conference, and the only thing we could come up with was the Pacers and the size of Hibbert.
The sample size is bigger now, though. We can no longer ignore the facts. Hibbert, who also comes with the baggage of making iffy comments, is an overpaid center because there are no longer a slew of dominating NBA centers. Because of that, we tried to equate his sometimes strong defense, not so swell rebounding abilities, and complete inability to score, with Roy Hibbert being a tangible thing.
Hibbert’s career averages read like some random center in the annals of NBA history, not someone of importance. 10.8 points, an underwhelming 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game does not exactly scream as a player who is supposed to be a factor in the NBA Playoffs.
That might not be fair to him, either. Hibbert’s game is much more improved since his days as an immobile, lumbering center at Georgetown. But it hasn’t improved that much. He still can’t score in enough different ways to be thought of as any sort of offensive threat, can’t guard more than six-feet away from the basket and just doesn’t rebound enough to care that he is seven-feet-and-two-inches of what we were hoping was a true center.
Sadly, our misconceptions about true centers bring to the table aside, Hibbert is what he is. Which is a true center.
In Indian’s series against a bad Atlanta team, we made excuses for him. That there were match-up problems all-around. That small guards hurt the Pacers and that the Hawks’ bigs can step away from the basket, which limits Hibbert to the point of making him a liability.
Well, about that. How many teams in the NBA have a true center? That center we all clamor for?
More teams in the NBA currently employee a bevy of stretch-fours, who are slotted in as fives, to make up for the lack of our fictional idea that true centers are the key to NBA success. Which, in turn, makes true centers, here being Hibbert, nearly worthless.
If the majority of teams you are going to face have guys who step away from the basket to score, where does that leave a player who can’t guard that kind of skill-set? Especially when that player’s supposed best attribute is his defense, as is the case with Hibbert.
Now we all laugh. We laugh at Roy Hibbert for being a letdown. That his inability to have an ability to help his team win games is so funny, in so many different ways, that Hibbert has become a walking Internet meme.
Outside of the 2011-12 season — which saw Hibbert have highs in points, FG percentage, and rebounds — what proof did we ever have that Roy Hibbert was a thing worth caring about?
It hasn’t stopped us. Despite Ho-Hum Hibbert (patent still pending) shooting an atrocious .45 percent from the floor this season, while grabbing the weakest 6.9 rebounds per game as possible, we acted like Indiana was good because, well, the Eastern Conference is a horrible league, I guess.
Here is what we do know. The Eastern Conference stinks. It was horrible all year-long. Now, because the Hibbert is horrible topic is hot, we are propping up the Wizards as being a good team, while we should instead be acknowledging the fact that outside of Miami, every team that played in the conference is only a few notches better than the Club State Pool Cleaners who won your YMCA Men’s League this past winter.
Indiana won a bunch of games this year because everyone else was horrible. We already knew this, but we also chose to hurl that fact to the wayside in an attempt to make an Eastern Conference Finals match-up between the Pacers and Heat seem more compelling.
We also chose to ignore Hibbert’s weaknesses as a player in favor of pushing his status as being anything more than ho-hum, that way, when our predicted Indiana vs Miami finals happened, we had a reason to pretend to think the Pacers actually had a chance.
Roy Hibbert isn’t a horrible basketball player. He just so happens to be very flawed, limited, and is basically a liability in today’s style of NBA. Until, or if ever, the Pacers recognize this and try different lineups that incorporate the Chris Copeland types of players in the world more, they will suffer for it.
All of this. All of Ho-Hum Hibbert, because we wanted it to be true so badly that we ignored every fact in the world. The most important being, Roy Hibbert is, at his best, a slightly above-average basketball player.