Pacers’ Hibbert Added Strength This Summer
by Candace Buckner, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS — After the Indiana Pacers’ preseason debut Saturday night, when center Roy Hibbert looked scattered offensively and made four of 14 shots, the big man still earned approval.
“At 290 (pounds), I’m moving a little better than I was at 275,” Hibbert said while adjusting his leather coat. He turned to his locker neighbor, Paul George. “Think so, P? I’m moving a little better than I was last year?”
“Yeah,” George agreed.
Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls, Hibbert wanted to show what he did last summer. The time spent in weight rooms and basketball courts — including the San Antonio Spurs practice facility — have created a markedly stronger and yet a bit more polished player entering his sixth season in the NBA. At 7-2, Hibbert now has a fitness magazine physique.
Nevertheless, while he displayed glimpses of the summer work, one night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse did not fully reveal Hibbert’s overall improvement.
“I worked all summer on my pick-and-pop and turn-and-face,” Hibbert said, mentioning specific low-post moves. “I didn’t use the pick-and-pop that much. I made some bad decisions, but I think the turn-and-face (toward the basket) opened up a lot for me. So I think the first half, I tried to utilize that.
“It was the first game and I wish I could’ve done more, but everybody has a second chance.”
Last season, the Pacers relied on the post-up as their most used offensive play (18.03 percent of the time, according to analytics organization Synergy Sports). In those plays, Hibbert produced a 0.88 points-per-possession average, which the website evaluated as “below average.”
During the offseason, Hibbert returned to the gym to add strength and refine his game.
“After the finals, I didn’t really see him until the week we spent in San Antonio,” teammate Ian Mahinmi said. “So when he came back, for me, I was like, ‘Wow! You put on quite a few pounds. You look good, you look in shape, you look strong.’”
For his offensive fine-tuning, Hibbert worked out with new Pacers assistant coach Popeye Jones, specifically on catching the ball in the post, pivoting to create space from the defender … [For more on 7-2 Roy Hibbert somehow got bigger in Pacers offseason, click here.]