Lakers Nation Roundtable: Judging Roy Hibbert’s Impact This Season
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Lakers failed to land a big name free agent, the team had to act quickly to somewhat salvage their off-season as most big-name targets had already signed. The first move the team made was trading for big man, Roy Hibbert. Coming off a disappointing season and entering a contract year, the potential for him to re-discover his All-Star form was enough to persuade the Lakers to take the chance.

Entering the season, Hibbert was very adamant that his focus was strictly on the defensive end, which made sense as it has always been his strong suit and the Lakers sorely needed a rim protector.

Through 26 games the returns on Hibbert are still to be determined. He has been unable to turn around the Lakers defensive woes, but that likely has as much to do with the rest of the team being lackluster on that end as anything Hibbert is or isn’t doing.

Overall, his numbers are relatively underwhelming, but he does seem to be making an impact in ways that can’t be measured both on and off the court.

So we asked our panel of experts if they believe Roy Hibbert has been better, worse, or exactly what they expected. This is what they had to say:

Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Coming into this season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Roy Hibbert had the perfect opportunity to resurrect his NBA career after a disappointing end to his stint with the Indiana Pacers. Hibbert was traded to the Lakers in exchange for a second-round draft pick. Basically, Indiana gave away their two-time All-Star for nothing.

Hibbert has had a chance to prove his worth in Los Angeles under the uncertainty of having only one year left on his contract. The motivating factors have been there for the veteran center this season, but he’s failed to take advantage of the situation.

Although Hibbert has his moments in the first 26 games of the season, he’s been a disappointment in my opinion and probably won’t be re-signed if nothing changes. There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played, and Hibbert might be able to turn things around, but at this point, he may be looking for work next summer.

In 26 games this season, Hibbert is averaging 7.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. Decent numbers for a backup, but not a starting center playing 27 minutes every night.

Jabari Davis (@JabariDavisNBA): Given the circumstances, Hibbert has probably performed about as well as could be expected. As the team’s lone semi-consistent rim protecting presence, Hibbert finds himself in a lot of situations where he is called upon to help a teammate that has permitted their man to turn the corner.

Unfortunately for the Lakers (and Hibbert), while he generally as much of a paint presence as can be expected, his 1.9 blocks per contest simply haven’t been enough to deter opposing teams from literally feasting in the lane offensively. The Los Angeles Lakers are currently surrendering an average of 44.8 points in the lane per contest; third-most in the NBA.

Hibbert certainly cannot be expected to act as the team’s only defensive presence at the rim, but you’d certainly hope to see a former runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year that was top-five in several key defensive statistical categories (Defensive Win Shares, Defensive Rating and Defensive +/-) as recently as two seasons ago would be able to make a bit more of an impact at that end at some point as the team continues to grow and develop.

As an offensive player, Hibbert has been exactly as advertised. He can be serviceable in the post, but often is relegated to “clean-up” duty. His mid-range shot is actually consistent and fluid when he decides to take it. At just 5.5 field goal attempts per game, it is apparent both he and the team would prefer to focus the bulk of his efforts at the defensive end.

On a team with so many young players, it is actually nice to see a veteran with the patience and willingness to place the team’s development over his personal numbers. This is is especially impressive when you consider that Hibbert is in a contract year and attempting to show his continued “worth” in an ever-evolving league.

Nathaniel Lastrapes (@Nathanielp2): Roy Hibbert has produced exactly what I expected of him on the basketball court, but his locker room presence has been a welcome surprise.

This year has not been easy for this team and certainly nobody expected them to be this bad. Hibbert has been a great veteran for the young guys to look up to and he has publicly supported the young core numerous times.

Hibbert is a serviceable big man down low who does not produce much offensively, but serves as a defensive anchor who can clog the paint. This is what I expected when the Lakers traded for him and he has met those expectations. Hibbert may never return to All-Star form, but his role in the Lakers locker room is pivotal for the young guys.

My favorite Hibbert moment so far this season was in the preseason against the Utah Jazz. Trevor Booker attempted to punk Julius Randle by shoving him after a whistle, but Hibbert marched across the floor in Randle’s defense and confronted Booker. Booker then took a swing at Hibbert and the referees stopped the altercation before it could escalate.

Hibbert has proved to be a great teammate and will continue to serve as a mentor for the young players. I can see the Lakers extending an offer to Hibbert this off-season because he is such a good locker room guy.

Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane): At this point Roy Hibbert has been just slightly worse than what I expected for the season. We knew coming in that Roy wasn’t going to offer much on the offensive end, and that’s fine. His ability to miss close range shots is uncanny, but can be forgiven because his role on the team only requires rim protection, rebounding, and organizing the team’s defense.

Unfortunately he is coming up just short in all of these areas. While his blocks are up from last year (1.9 per game for the season), Roy is allowing opponents to shoot 56.5% at the rim, which is right around the middle of the pack for starting centers. Defensive breakdowns from teammates are partially to blame but it’s still a bit disappointing from the guy who used to essentially be a wall in front of the basket.

Likewise, a rebounding average of just 6.6 per game is extremely low for a starting center, especially considering the fact that Roy is one of the largest players in the league at 7’2″ and 270 pounds. He routinely gets out muscled and out hustled to the ball, although rebounding machine Julius Randle does gobble up some of Hibbert’s opportunities.

Big Roy was also expected to act as the glue that would hold the defense together, but in spite of his efforts the team has struggled mightily– as of this writing they are the second-worst team in the league in terms of Defensive Rating, and are only giving up .1 point per game less than the worst team, the New Orleans Pelicans. Again, this isn’t all Hibbert’s fault, but his impact was supposed to be enough to at least make the Lakers somewhat respectable on the defensive end.

All in all, Roy hasn’t been terrible, but he has underwhelmed. It’s going to be interesting to see what the market holds for him next summer when he becomes a free agent.

Alan Huerta (@Alan_Huerta24): After the Lakers failed to land a key front court player in free agency this offseason, I thought trading for Roy Hibbert was a solid addition. They needed a center and he needed a new start with how his 2014-15 season ended in Indiana.

As for my thoughts on his play 26 games in, I think the veteran center is right where I expected him to be. With averages of 7.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, Hibbert hasn’t necessarily ‘wowed’ anybody in the stat column. But then again, I didn’t think he would. However, I do believe he’s done a solid job of doing what he does best – protecting the middle of the paint and contesting shots; and that doesn’t show in the final stat chart.

Coming into a rebuilding and young team, I knew he’d struggle to get touches, as most of his points have come from easy dump downs or second chance points. But for someone who’s playing in an expiring contract, I was hoping he’d show more glimpses of his former All-Star self to revitalize himself as one of the best rim-protectors in the NBA, but that hasn’t happened.

He did have a double-double (12 points and 11 rebounds) in the Lakers’ last win against the Milwaukee Bucks, so hopefully he can build from this play as the season continues.

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