NBA Saturday: How Roy Hibbert Got Right
How Roy Hibbert Got Right
It wasn’t really a huge secret, but let the record show that Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert really struggled in the first month of the season. Through November, he shot only 37.8 percent from the field and only 56.3 percent from the free throw line, but more importantly he himself admitted that he was going through something of a slump since getting his max contract over the summer.
December, though, has been an entirely different story as Hibbert bumped his percentages up to 43.1 percent from the field and 76.9 percent from the charity stripe and has often looked like the All-Star he was a year ago. There are a lot of things to which we can attribute those early struggles and the subsequent turnaround, but Hibbert seems to think it was actually something pretty simple.
“I had a wrist problem,” Hibbert admitted. “There was just a little weakness there from last year’s playoffs, but [trainers] are fixing the problem right now. I’m happy because it was affecting my shot, but now I’m getting better.”
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel agreed that the wrist had something to do with it, but he thinks the turnaround is about more than just improved health.
“I think our team has been more efficient,” Vogel said. “Making up for the absence of Danny Granger is not something you can do in one day. We knew there was going to be a trial and error period of trying different lineups, different combinations of guys getting a rhythm and a flow with their teammates. That’s contributed to [Hibbert’s turnaround] as much as anything.”
Hibbert, though, did remain one of the league’s more steady defensive players during his offensive slump, and as a result he is currently averaging the third-most blocks in the league with 2.9 rejections per game. Playing well on at least one end of the floor really seems to have helped him weather those early struggles.
“My thing, ever since I was younger, was that if you’re not scoring you’ve got to affect the game some other way,” Hibbert said. “I want to block shots, get rebounds and help my teammates however I can. I just had to affect the game a little differently.”
Now, Hibbert isn’t focusing on individual accomplishments as much as he is his team’s success.
“I want us to go deep into the playoffs,” Hibbert said. “We just want to take it one game at a time. Milwaukee and Chicago have been playing really well, so we have to win our games outside of our conference, but we definitely have to win the games within the division, too.”
Doing so could earn the Pacers homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a very winnable Central Division title to go along with it. Hibbert’s steady improvement is an important key to making that happen, though, and he’ll have to continue to improve on this same arc if Indiana wants to show they’re as good as everyone thought they’d be back in the preseason.
December was promising, but there’s a whole lot of 2013 hoops left before the playoffs. Consistency has always been an issue for Hibbert, but he and his team are hopeful that he’s finally starting to figure it out.
Up Close With Matt Barnes
The L.A. Clippers are, for lack of a better word, awesome. They’ve got the longest current win streak in the league right now with 16 consecutive victories and are in the midst of attempting to complete a flawless month of December. They haven’t lost since basically Thanksgiving, and the top-notch second unit (which may be the league’s best bench) is a huge reason why.
Matt Barnes in particular has been “playing out of his mind,” according to one NBA executive, and he talks about his success with the Clippers and the team’s success in general in the video below:
Jared Dudley, the NBA’s Twitter King
On some level, professional athletes have always made an effort to connect with their fans, but Twitter has really helped today’s NBA stars communicate with fans more than ever before. Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley could very well be the best at using the social media site.
“I definitely think a lot of the fans appreciate it, and I think a lot of the good players reward them for that with tickets, with comments, by talking about different stuff, camps and charity events,” Dudley said.
“I think back in the day we would have loved to see our favorite players do that,” he added. “I would have loved to see what (Dennis) Rodman would have had to say. Obviously (Michael) Jordan would have been like Kobe (Bryant) and rarely tweeted, but there were some characters and I definitely would have been on it when I was a kid.”
As a player, though, Dudley has found that by transforming into one of the league’s most prolific tweeters, he’s opened up a lot of opportunities.
“I’m all about the debates and discussions, but it’s usually to show your personality off,” Dudley said. “It helps for if you want a life after basketball, like if you want to be a commentator. I’ve been involved with ESPN doing things, so it can definitely help you.
“I think you can market yourself,” he added. “It’s like having a marketing company, but you’re doing it yourself. If you’re good at it, which I think I am, you can market yourself to be bigger than you are, make yourself more well-known than what your skill level is at times.”
Scoring 36 points, as Dudley did earlier in the week, can help build a name for yourself, too, but more often than not, Dudley’s use of Twitter has really just made him a personable character for his fans and fans of the Phoenix Suns.
“I don’t believe in having other people tweet for you. I think it’s just bad PR. Maybe the big-time celebrities can get away with it, but I think for the most part fans want the realness of it and actually comment to you. You can comment back to them, and they can really see what kind of person you are,” Dudley said.
Perhaps best of all, Twitter has helped Dudley offer some love to his community in some really cool, creative ways.
“It’s for giving back,” Dudley said. “Once a month I do a Twitter Appreciation thing, and I give tickets away all the time to people who can’t afford it or can’t go.”
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Dudley has so many followers despite not being one of the league’s major stars. LeBron James and Kevin Durant and Amar’e Stoudemire are also occasionally entertaining on Twitter, but none put the kind of effort into it that Dudley does, and it shows in the way a middle-tier NBA starter has developed a sort of cult internet following. He genuinely comes off as a cool, down-to-earth guy, and Twitter has helped him establish that image.
But it’s also helped him give back to his fans and his community, which is a heck of a lot more than some celebrities do with their own Twitter accounts.