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Indiana Pacers' Season Preview 2014-2015: Roy Hibbert On The Spot

Over the years, Roy Hibbert has proven to be one of the Pacers' most conflicting players. Will he finally give Pacer fans reason to relax?

Andy Lyons

When I think of Roy Hibbert, I think of that ghastly left-handed hook shot. You know what I'm talking about, that sweeping long-limbed toss about 10 feet away from the basket that probably has the same success rate as a Michael J. Fox return to primetime. I watch that eye sore 2-3 times a game and always wonder: How can a player who played four years in college, who works so hard in the offseason, who dreams of bringing the Larry O'Brien trophy to Indy, either a) fail to recognize the inefficiency of said shot or b) say, "the hell with it," and chuck it up anyway?

Nitpicky, I know, but that's my tortured-by-Roy story. We've all got one. Maybe yours is the way he stumbles up and down the court, or his flat-footed 15-20 footer, or his inability to get position on 6' 9" defender.

There are many directions you can go, but let's talk about Roy in broader terms. The general sense I get from Pacer fans is that the ultimate tortured-by-Roy story is his overall inconsistency: the peaks and valleys, the Jekyll and Hyde, the two faces of Harvey Dent.

Looking at things from that perspective prompted me to take a closer look at Roy's numbers; to try and make sense of the highs and lows. Does he wear down as the season progresses? Does he lose interest at random times? Are there specific moments when those crises of confidence creep up? 

What I found surprised me, not in a "Roy's the best ever!" kind of way, but at the very least it made me say "huh."

Keep in mind, I'm no statistician, and I'll never pretend to be. I'll leave that sort of in-depth analysis to people who are much smarter than I am. All I did was track portions of Roy's traditional stat line from the year he became a full-time starter (2010-2011) all the way through last season (2013-2014). I averaged those numbers out month-by-month, looking for glaring inconsistencies. Here's what I found:

Roy Hibbert Selective Stats 2010-2014
Oct./Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr.
PPG 12.4 11.4 11.5 12.2 12.2 11.9
RPG 8.9 8.2 8.1 7.8 6.9 7.1
BPG 3 1.9 1.9 2.2 2.1 1.6
FGA 11.1 10.3 10.5 10.5 10 10.1
FG% 44.2% 48% 44.4% 48% 46.1% 44.4%
FTA 3.5 2.9 3 2.9 3.9 3.4
FT% 70.1% 71.9% 70.9% 75.8% 78.4% 75.8%
TO 2.2 2.3 2.1 2 2.1 1.7

Let's get one thing out of the way first. For a 7' 2" behemoth who makes max money and spends most of his time around the basket, the numbers involving PPG, FG%, and RPG are underwhelming. You know it, I know it, we all know it. We also know those categories aren't necessarily what make Roy effective. But all that's irrelevant to this post. In terms of consistency, Roy is surprisingly steady, maybe even shockingly so. There's little variance between his production at the beginning of the season through the end, which doesn't really jive with his "inconsistent" reputation. Even his worst month as a starter (April) was within reach of the others, that dreadful spell this past spring included.

The big takeaway? There probably isn't one. This analysis doesn't take into account game-by-game performance, which, for all its tediousness, might reveal something different. But a month-by-month view is microscopic in its own right, and it suggests that Roy may be more consistent than he gets credit for. 

To borrow a coach-speak phrase, "Roy Hibbert is what he is," and has been for nearly half a decade. Whether he's playing with or without David West, a healthy or unhealthy Danny Granger, budding youngsters Lance and PG; or whether it's December, February or April, he's going to produce roughly 11-12 PPG, 7-8 RPG, 2 BPG, and shoot 44-48% from the field. 

The good news with that is the dreadful Roy we saw in March and April of last season probably won't be replicated. At least not while he's still in the prime of his career. The numbers just don't support it. The bad news is if you're hoping to see his numbers improve markedly with an increased role, you're likely not to see it, either.

With Paul George out and Lance Stephenson off to purple and teal pastures, you're more than welcome to heighten your expectations for Roy. But do so at your own risk. He's been singing the same song for a while now, so if you find yourself on the "disappointed" side of things at the end of the season, just remember it's not Roy, it's you.