Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Too bad Roy Hibbert isn't a broken clock.
Hibbert is a broken basketball player and those are much harder to fix. In 12 minutes of action Monday against Atlanta, the Indiana Pacers center recorded a single assist to go with goose eggs in both the scoring and rebounding columns. Head coach Frank Vogel could have used a cardboard cutout of Hibbert and it would have been just as effective.
When did Hibbert's mediocrity begin? Scholars can't be sure of the exact date but it must have happened sometime around the All-Star break. Over his final 29 games, Hibbert averaged a wildly underwhelming 8.9 ppg in just over 28 minutes per game. Kris Humphries (9.9 ppg), Timofey Mozgov (10.8 ppg) and Jermaine O'Neal (9.1 ppg) were among the 28 big men who outscored Hibbert in the second half, a stunning development considering two months ago he was chosen to represent the Eastern Conference at this year's All-Star Game. It was Hibbert's second invite in the last three seasons.
Of course, scoring can be a deceiving statistic. Anyone can score 20 points a game if they take enough shots. Well maybe not anyone, but you know what I mean. When it comes to scoring, field goal percentage is a much better measure of efficiency.
Unfortunately, that's where things get even worse for Hibbert. The slumping seven-footer connected on a mere 39 percent of his field goals in the second half, worst among all centers who played at least 15 games.
Hibbert's percentage in the first round against Atlanta has been even more disgraceful. In five contests, he's shooting an unforgivable 31.3 percent. The most head-scratching element in all of this is that 24 of Hibbert's 32 field goal attempts this postseason (75 percent) have come inside the paint. And he's STILL missing them (33 percent from that distance).
Rock bottom, square one, whatever you want to call it, this is ugly. And it doesn't seem to be getting any better. Hibbert's scoring average has dropped every month since December.
Certainly, there's more to Hibbert's game than scoring. Anyone who says otherwise is being shortsighted. Hibbert is known for using every inch of his 7-2 frame to intimidate defenders into taking bad shots and at 2.25 rejections per game, he's one of the game's better shot blockers. But 3.4 rebounds per game ... against Atlanta? That's mind-boggling. Jeff Teague is averaging more rebounds than that and he's 6-foot-2.
Whether it's an issue of confidence, team chemistry, or maybe just a bad matchup, the Pacers' struggles are real. And Hibbert isn't helping. In 110 minutes this series, the Pacers have been outscored by 16 points when Hibbert has been on the court. Even Indiana's backup center, the underachieving Ian Mahinmi, has been far less toxic than Hibbert (-10 for the series).
What's frustrating is that Hibbert CAN score. In fact, Hibbert's scoring average in last year's playoffs (17.0 ppg) was third-best among centers. He was especially dominant in last year's Eastern Conference Finals against Miami, chipping in with 22.1 ppg on absurd 55.7 percent shooting. His lowest total of the series came in Game 7 when the Heat limited Hibbert to just 18 points. Hibbert hasn't scored more than eight points in any of his five games this postseason.
It's easy to see why Hibbert had his way with Miami. Chris Bosh isn't a true center and neither are Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem. At 7-foot-2, Hibbert's height advantage over those players was overwhelming.
But the same is true now with Hawks center Pero Antic. Not only is Antic three inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than Hibbert, he's also a rookie. Seeing Hibbert average a paltry 4.8 ppg against him is just depressing.
With Atlanta leading three games to two, the Pacers are running out of time to save their season. So is Hibbert. Tick tock.
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