Raptors Jonas Valanciunas practicing the 'Hibbert'

Michael Hickey

After his success in the 2013 playoffs, it appears some young players are attempting to imitate Roy Hibbert's skills as an elite defender.

You know you have made it in the NBA when you have a signature move or technique that others want to imitate. Think in terms of Tim Duncan’s patented bank shot, Dirk Nowitzki’s one legged fade away jumper, Manu Ginobili’s Euro-step, or Rajon Rondo’s fake behind the back pass, etc. For instance, Dwyane Wade and James Harden can oftentimes be seen in games mimicking Ginobili’s Euro-side-step. After falling short in the 2011 WCF, Kevin Durant worked tirelessly to perfect Nowitzki’s step back (off the wrong foot) jump shot. With regard to adding the move to his vast skills repertoire, Durant told The Oklahoman:

"He’s the originator, so I stole that from him a little bit. I’m not as good as he is at it, but I’ve been working on it and it was the perfect time for me to do that with the defender playing the way he was playing. I’m glad I made it. I thought it was going to be an air-ball."

Well, per RealGM, add Roy Hibbert to that list of originators with imitators. As explained by RealGM’s wiretap, Hibbert has started to make utilizing verticality famous throughout the NBA community:

The Toronto Raptors have worked extensively with Jonas Valanciunas on the "Hibbert", which is jumping vertically to challenge shooters instead of reaching.

According to this report, at least some around the league have come to directly associate the law of verticality with the Big Dawg (whether Tom Thibodeau approves of the defensive skill or not).

After Hibbert’s strong defensive showing against the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh in the 2013 postseason, it is no wonder that other teams are trying to teach their young interior players the art of protecting the rim without fouling. Like Frank Vogel has stated in the past, Roy is largely responsible for the Pacers’ league leading field-goal defense:

"He’s the biggest reason why we lead the league in field-goal defense. He is the best in the league at exercising the fundamental of verticality. Using his legs, getting off his feet and making a legal defensive play and earning a no-call."

Vogel is correct. Hibbert is certainly one of the league’s best interior defenders. According to a research study conducted by Kirk Goldsberry and Eric Weiss presented at the SLOAN analytics conference, no one in the league has allowed a lower percentage of made shots faced within five feet of the basket over the last two seasons than Roy Hibbert.

Therefore, if Hibbert continues to effectively anchor the Pacers’ elite defense while successfully utilizing the law of verticality; it will most likely be commonplace for fans to see various young stars (i.e. Jonas Valanciunas) imitating the "Hibbert" in the paint for years to come.

(Note: Roy must be flattered to have a signature move named after him in print, since he retweeted a link to RealGM's story about Jonas Valanciunas and the Hibbert technique)

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