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.
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)
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.