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Indiana Re-Learning How to Use Roy Hibbert Effectively

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

After being the favorite target of internet jokesters for the better part of two months (it’s not your fault, big man), The Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert finally put a few productive games together in Round 2 against Washington. This trend continued with his solid two-way play in Indiana’s surprisingly one-sided Game 1 victory over the Miami Heat. In addition to anchoring a defense which held Miami to an offensive rating of 98.1 while he was on the floor, Hibbert chipped in 19 points and 9 rebounds and was a game high +19 for Indiana.

The Pacers have to really work to get Hibbert quality scoring chances.  Big Roy is never going to be the most elegant of scorers in the low post. His gangling limbs and relatively high center of gravity allow opponents to force him into some ugly attempts around the basket.

Still,  getting him involved offensively remains a big part of Indiana’s game plan, especially against the undersized Heat.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about some things he and Indiana can do to make Hibbert more effective by getting him post touches that aren’t simply dribbling down and dumping him the ball on the strong side of the floor. Notably, I called for him to look to receive the ball on the opposite side of the floor, after side-to-side ball reversal.

In Game One, Indiana appears to have moved recognized the effectiveness of this strategy to a degree. There were still more than a few cases where they tried to just dump the ball in, and let him play:




These tended to be some of Indiana’s worse offensive possessions, as look where Hibbert is catching the ball when he receives it this unimaginative manner:






He’s off balance, 12 feet or further from the basket. Hardly idea for a guy whose height might become a detriment if he’s asked to back a smaller player (with better leverage) down to get a quality look. And that’s if he can even receive the ball. One of the drawbacks of fighting for this position is this can happen, as Hibbert commits an offensive foul trying to get better position:


In total, Hibbert was 0-5 with the above offensive foul turnover in the six possessions where Indiana “force fed” him the ball on the strong side.

However, as the game went along, Indiana used improved ball movement to get Hibbert the ball in more advantageous positions. Using this quicker reversal around the perimeter, Indiana allowed the big man to catch the ball closer to the basket. In fact, he was able to catch the ball right at the front of the rim, drawing a foul, as Indiana moved the ball from right to left:



In fact, of the 5 possessions Hibbert got the ball via this sort of reversal, 4 of them ended with positive outcomes, via Roy scoring or getting fouled, netting two baskets on three shot attempts and drawing two shooting fouls. He was able to have this success in large part because of where on the floor he received the ball.

Compare the images above with those that follow in terms of his positioning on the catch:






As opposed to the strong side dump-ins, Roy is catching the ball with both feet either in or just outside the painted area. As his size remains one of Indiana’s main advantages in this series. And to continue exploiting it, the Pacers must utilize this type slight misdirection to allow Hibbert to catch the ball in these more comfortable positions around the basket.

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