NBA AM: Roy Hibbert Plans For A Big Leap
Roy Hibbert’s Big Leap: Indiana Pacers big man Roy Hibbert was named an All-Star last season and got his monster payday this offseason by way of a maximum contract offer from the Portland Trail Blazers that the Pacers ultimately matched. Some could say Hibbert has gotten what he wanted over the last few years, but last year’s playoff run has left him even more motivated to live up to the new hype and expectations surrounding himself and his team.
“I feel comfortable within myself,” Hibbert said to HOOPSWORLD. “I feel that there’s more responsibility within me. I want that responsibility with that contract I was given. Whether it’s on offense or defense, I’m going to bring it every night, regardless.
“Last year was great. We played well. We want to build off last year. But we can’t think that just because where we were last year, we’re going to get there again without putting in the effort, sacrificing and putting a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. We have our work cut out for us, it’s a process and hopefully we can build throughout the year.”
The Pacers found success a year ago mainly due to Hibbert’s emergence as a consistent big in the East and guard Paul George dominating at times. Hibbert believes that in order for the Pacers to get back to the postseason, it’s going to take more than just Danny Granger, George and himself.
“It comes from all of us,” Hibbert said. “Personally, I know I want to make the big jump, whether that is on offense or defense. But I think everybody needs to be on the same page, working and being hungry for success. You should never be satisfied with losing.
“Everybody is working extremely hard in preseason, very focused. We have our ups-and-downs on the road right now, we’re 2-2, two at home and two away losses. The first couple games of the season are on the road, so we got to be road warriors and be sure to win those. It’s a good experience playing in a ‘hostile’ environment, but we got work to do.”
Despite the fifth-best record in the NBA and a convincing playoff push a year ago, the Pacers remain a team overlooked and underestimated.
“We’re going to be under the radar no matter what because that’s what people want to see, the big names,” said Hibbert. “It’s fine with us, we’re just going to go about our business and bring it.”
“If we work at it, we can do pretty well. Expectations are high, but there are a few guys on this team that will make sure we work and not just, say, settle. “
“I think we can get to the Eastern Conference Finals, hopefully win our division,” Hibbert said confidently. “It’ll take time. Nothing is given; you have to go get it. We have a chance to be really good if we put it all together.”
The Pacers open 12 of their first 18 games on the road, so the path to the playoffs for the Pacers won’t be easy. But with their starting core back, another year of experience together and a hobbled Chicago Bulls team likely conceding the division with Derrick Rose sidelined for the bulk of the season due to an ACL injury, the Pacers could be home court heroes again this year, if they can meet their own expectations.
D.J. Augustin, The Backup: D.J. Augustin was the starting point guard for the worst team, percentage wise, in NBA history last year. To say he was looking for a fresh start is an understatement.
This summer, Augustin dumped the Charlotte Bobcats for the Indiana Pacers as a free agent. While he’s now the primary backup to George Hill – the starter for the Pacers – he’s happy to have a chance to be part of a winning organization.
Augustin talks with HOOPSWORLD about his new team and his expectations for the season.
Danny Green Has A Role: It wasn’t that long ago that San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green was a man without a team. Green joked in his locker that when he was cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers, he thought his world and his NBA dream was over. The Spurs brought Danny in last year as a project player and Green turned that opportunity into a three-year deal worth almost $12 million.
“It’s very nice,” Green said of the security of his new deal. “Obviously, it allows me to play a little bit more comfortably, to know that this organization is behind me and they want me here. Obviously, this is where I want to be. This is where I started out at, where my role became bigger. Each day I want to get better, I want to make that role an even bigger role, each day, each game, each year. Even though I got that security, I’m still taking that time to approach the game like I did before without the contract.”
Green’s experience in Cleveland is an ever present reminder that tomorrow is not promised, even with a guaranteed contract.
“It’s a business, everybody here is competitive, everybody wants to win, but at the same time, everyone wants to play,” explained Green. “I want to have a major role in our team’s success, and in order to do that, and compete and continue to play the minutes I want to play, I still have to continue to work as if I did when I first got here.”
When the Spurs announced Green’s re-signing, they talked a lot about the swingman being part of their future, something Green still struggles to wrap his mind around.
“It’s still something that’s hard for me to see or believe,” Green said. “But I can’t look at it like that. I’m just looking at it one day at a time. I try not to listen to any outside sources, or outside whatever. I just keep it in our family here. And I know what I have to do, and what they expect out of me, and nobody has told me that they looked at me as the face or the next future, they just want me to play the role that I’m playing right now and continue to step up and play defense and knock down shots. And follow Timmy [Duncan], Tony [Parker] and Manu [Ginobili]‘s lead.”
As an organization, the Spurs are one the most structured and regimented teams in the league. They are the envy, structurally, of most teams in the NBA. Green says that structure has made it easy for him to focus on his job, especially with Hall of Famers like Duncan and Ginobili setting the tone.
“Following those guys, they’re very professional, and they know how to handle themselves,” Green said. “It makes your job a lot easier. You just go out and play and do what they ask you.”
The Spurs hope that Green can continue to hit big shots for them. There is no unreal expectation for him other than to play his role and hit his shots and that’s something he proved he could do last year and worked all summer this year to improve. So far in the preseason, Green is shooting 48.8 percent from the field and a scorching 41.4 percent from three, which is exactly what the Spurs want him to do this season.
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