COMMENTARY | The Indiana Pacers signed Roy Hibbert to a four-year, $58 million contract during the 2012 offseason, and he had a fairly inconsistent first year of his new deal.
Many Pacers fans were upset with his regular-season performance last year, but were silenced during the playoffs with his dominating performances against the Hawks, Knicks, and Heat. Due to his postseason performance last season, there is a lot of hype surrounding Hibbert heading into the 2013 NBA season.
The one question surrounding Hibbert throughout the entire league, is whether or not the 290 pound, 7-foot-2-inch big man can live up to the hype.
During the regular season last year, Hibbert averaged just 11.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He was missing easy buckets at the rim and looked very weak when posting up on the block. There is no doubt that Hibbert has one of the best arsenals of post moves in the game, but he didn't appear able to finish the looks that he gave himself.
During the playoffs, he seemed to figure things out, averaging 17.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest. Those are the kind of numbers that a player on a max contract should be putting up. Obviously, Hibbert has the talent to put up monster numbers every night, but he has to work on his consistency.
The one major plus about Hibbert last year was on the defensive side of the basketball. Averaging 2.6 blocks per game during the regular season, he was one of the best rim protectors in the game. Indiana's coaching staff worked hard with him during the 2012 offseason on defending without fouling by jumping straight into the air and not coming down on top of opposing players. Hibbert may not have shown great dividends on the offensive side of the basketball early on in his new contract, but he certainly showed up on the defensive side of the ball.
Reports this past offseason have claimed that Hibbert gained 15 pounds of muscle, which will go a long ways toward helping him in the post. Frank Vogel has said that Hibbert hasn't lost any of his speed or quickness and is looking better than he ever has. Working with superstar big man Tim Duncan again this offseason excited Pacers fans as well. If Hibbert is able to pick up pieces of Duncan's game, and the consistency that Duncan brings on a nightly basis, Hibbert could become one of the most dominating players in the NBA this year.
All that being said, there is a lot of pressure on Hibbert this coming season to play up to the hype that has been surrounding his name. The Pacers' offense suits Hibbert perfectly as the season approaches, and the continued growth of Paul George will take a lot of pressure off of Hibbert. The wrist injury that plagued Hibbert for the majority of last season is fully healed as well.
You can't argue with the fact that Hibbert has one of the best work ethics in the game. Whether it be through MMA workouts or just being in the gym working on his game late, he's one of the hardest workers out there. If there is anyone who can live up to the hype and become a dominating interior force, it's Roy. The Pacers are expecting big things, and so should you.
Overall, this season should be a very big one for Hibbert. If he's able to improve in his consistency on offense and continue to play strong defense without fouling, you can expect to see big numbers around the board. While he has had an up and down career in the NBA so far, the best is yet to come for the 26-year-old big man.
Expect to see a much-improved Roy Hibbert and the dominating force that many analysts have been talking about.
Evan Massey lives in Indianapolis and has followed the Pacers for the past 15 years. He has written for many online NBA websites, including Hoops-Nation.com, Pro Football Spot, and Naptown's Finest. Follow Evan on Twitter at @massey_evan.
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