Hibbert Still Important When Not Scoring

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Roy Hibbert is getting paid, with a capital P, a capital A, a capital I, and a capital D.

So the Pacers are just going to have to ride with their 7-foot-2 center through his offensive struggles. Hibbert is shooting just 39 percent this season and has the free throw rate of a contact-shy point guard.

Back-up Ian Mahinmi hasn’t exactly been Tyson Chandler in terms of efficiency, but he’s been more efficient than Hibbert, and he had a strong game (14 points on nine shots) in Milwaukee on Tuesday. Still, Pacers coach Frank Vogel went back to Hibbert for the final seven minutes of a tight game against a division rival.

Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star spoke with Vogel about that decision before the Pacers crushed the Jazz on Wednesday

Pacers center Roy Hibbert’s offensive problems this season have been well documented.

And despite those struggles, Vogel said he will stick with Hibbert over Ian Mahinmi late in games.

Mahinmi had 14 points off the bench against Milwaukee compared to Hibbert’s eight points on 4-of-10 shooting.

Still, Vogel went with Hibbert at the end of the game because he’s the anchor of their defense.

“We always consider going with the hot hand,” Vogel said. “There are things that Roy brings to the table that Ian doesn’t that have won for us at a high level the last couple of years. Typically we’re going to go with him unless there’s an extreme example.”

The decision didn’t really work out for Vogel. The Bucks outscored the Pacers 17-15 over the last seven minutes, Indiana shot 3-for-11 (Hibbert didn’t take a shot) and lost the game 98-93.

But Hibbert is still the right choice for Vogel. The Pacers are a pretty awful offensive team, but they’re better right now (101 points scored per 100 possessions over their last 10 games) than they were earlier in the season (94 points scored per 100 possessions over their first 10 games). Plus, they’re 14-12 because they rank second in the league in defensive efficiency.

Hibbert has been the anchor of that No. 2 defense. Indiana is allowing just 96.3 points per 100 possessions with Hibbert on the floor vs. 100.2 with Mahinmi on the floor. And the numbers show that Hibbert is one of the best big men in the league at defending the rim.

Lowest opponent FG% in restricted area while on floor
(power forwards and centers)

Player OppFGM OppFGA OppFG%
Ekpe Udoh 135 291 46.4%
Ronny Turiaf 76 162 46.9%
Kosta Koufos 156 329 47.4%
Roy Hibbert 206 408 50.5%
Larry Sanders 167 329 50.8%

Minimum 100 FGA

As the anchor and rim-protector of the No. 2 defense in the league, Hibbert deserves some early Defensive Player of the Year consideration. He also deserves plenty of playing time, even when he can’t put the ball in the basket.


  1. I’m puzzled, I scrolled up and down, back and forth the table of best defenders between power forward and centres…
    and, jeez, I haven’t found Andrea Bargnani!!!

    is he now a smaller (à la Barkley) forward?!? 🙂

  2. I’m puzzled! I scrolled up and down, back and forth the table of the best defenders in the paint between power forwards and centres and…. I didn’t find Andrea Bargnani…

    jeez, is he now a smaller (à la Barkley) forward?!?

  3. tzijlstra says:

    Good to see some consideration for what the Pacers are doing in terms of defence, almost all of that is on the back of Hibbert, even though the whole team are strong. Sure the team had a rotten start, losing Granger clearly had a bigger impact than anticipated and I’ll admit that the bench is proving to be disappointing so far, but in terms of D the team is rock solid and Vogel is doing a great job making the most of that.

    So please, all those Hibbert haters, I realise offence is far more fun to talk about, but come the play-offs and there are plenty of teams in the East who will choke on a quality defensive opponent!

    • dattebayo says:

      Hibbert is currently the highest paid Pacer and despite being 7 foot 2 tall, he is taking fewer shots at the rim and he finishes even less. Knowing that he can play better it’s pathetic that his struggles continued for an entire third of the season and that he isn’t improving. Clearly he is an important defensive presence, but if you get paid 14 million a year, you have to do a lot more. He is only averaging 9.7 points (shooting 39% from the field) and 8.3 rebounds in 29 minutes, he only attempts 2.2 freethrows per game. Do you think that’s enough for the Pacers to take another step and advance further into the playoffs than last season?

      This dude expected to become a 2nd time allstar and he even complained about the change in the allstar balloting system. Tim Duncan is 10 years older and he plays more minutes per game than Hibbert and has higher shooting percentages everywhere on the floor.