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Should Roy Hibbert get more touches?

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The answer may surprise you....

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With 1:06 seconds left in the second quarter of Saturday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Roy Hibbert established low post position against Robin Lopez and called for the ball:

Instead of receiving the pass on the block, Hibbert was used as a bailout option only after Solomon Hill dribbled into a trap and left his feet with nowhere to go. The result, unsurprisingly, was a bad pass (otherwise known as a turnover). This particular possession should be seen as a microcosm for the greater offensive struggles of the Pacers' 7'2" center.

Ever since his tumultuous close to the 2013-14 season, it has become somewhat of a tradition in Pacerslandia to heap loads of blame predominantly on the shoulders of Roy Hibbert following losses.

Just such an occurrence happened after Friday's loss against the Toronto Raptors. When looking at only a traditional box score, Hibbert appeared to be a no show, scoring six points on just 2-of-7 shooting. Granted, these numbers are far from impressive, but what needs to be remembered is that Roy is in a position of dependency. Put more simply, he has to actually be given the ball to score. Yet in this particular contest, the Big Dawg took only two shots within five feet of the basket. Meanwhile, four of his other field goal attempts were jump shots from a distance of 14 feet or greater, most of which were attempted late in the shot clock. Which, in layman's terms, means Hibbert was utilized primarily as a last resort on offense.

The following graphic from NBAsavant.com breaks down exactly how often the Pacers' center has relied on his jump shot this season:

Part of the reason Hibbert attempts so many eleventh-hour jumpers compared to other types of shots is because establishing his low-post game early and often has ceased to be prioritized as of late. Per NBA.com's SportVU data, Roy (who for the first 13 games of the season was the lone returning starter from last season) has received only 6.9% of his teammates' passes on the year. This mark places him at sixth on the Pacers' food chain. In years past, it made ample sense to utilize Hibbert as a fifth option on offense behind Paul George, George Hill, Lance Stephenson, and David West, but it may not anymore.

This season, Roy (44.4%) actually has the highest field goal percentage of any Pacer attempting at least 9.0 field goals per game. As a whole, Indiana is only shooting 43.2% on shots within 10 feet of the basket.

Can beggars really afford to be choosers?

Admittedly, there is a vast disparity in terms of scoring efficiency between Roy and those players considered as elite offensive centers. For instance, when considering only players with a minimum of 300 total touches, Hibbert scores 0.455 points per half court touch whereas Anthony Davis leads the pack at 0.738. Nevertheless, when measuring Roy only against his fellow front court teammates, he tops the list:

Player Name Total Touches PTS Per Half Court Touch
Roy Hibbert 861 0.455
Chris Copeland 895 0.343
Lavoy Allen 923 0.341
David West 554 0.314
Ian Mahinmi 513 0.345
Luis Scola 1213 0.328

When not used as a last-ditch jump shooter, it should be noted that Hibbert has thus far in the season improved upon his field goal percentages at the rim (62.5%) as well as on hook shots (63.8%) when compared to last season (56.0% at the rim; 57.0% on hook shots). Ranking 28th in field goal percentage, 21st in three point percentage, and 29th in points per game, Indiana's offense is very clearly anemic, yet Hibbert  currently ranks 186th in the league in front court touches.

Averaging only 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds in his first seven games back from injury, the Pacers no doubt need more from Roy Hibbert. But the 7-foot post player cannot do it on his own, he needs his teammates and, more importantly, he needs the ball.

"He's got to play better," said head coach Frank Vogel prior to his team's eighth consecutive loss against the Portland Trail Blazers. "All of our guys have to play better, you can't put it all on Roy."

Vogel is right. You can't.

Indiana is 2-13 when Roy attempts 11 or fewer shots. When he attempts 11 or more, the Pacers are .500. In the Eastern Conference, a win percentage of .500 would slot Indiana at sixth in the playoff standings.

Prior to the season's start, Larry Bird made the team's intentions for the season crystal clear, "I know some fans would rather us go in a different direction. But we want to win."

If winning is still the aim, then as strange as it may sound:

The Big Dawg needs to eat.

Stats from NBA.com/stats (SportVU Player Tracking and Team Tracking), NBAsavant.com, and Basketball Reference.