One of the ongoing (and somewhat funny) themes of every NBA offseason is what NBA.com’s Lang Whitaker has termed #musclewatch. This is the phenomenon where NBA players either lose weight or bulk up in an effort of “improving their bodies” to help them in the upcoming season. The most recent Lakers’ example we’ve discussed is rookie Robert Upshaw and his shedding of 20 pounds heading into the training camp.
The more important Lakers’ big man who has worked on his body in an attempt to slim down is Roy Hibbert. In dropping 14 pounds of his own, Hibbert is looking slimmer and hopes that translates to being quicker and being able to be more mobile than he has in recent seasons. Considering the Lakers will likely want to play faster and the fact the Pacers essentially gave him away because they wanted to as well, credit the big man for seeing the writing on the wall.
Besides trying to better combat small ball, however, Hibbert’s improved fitness could help in an even more important way. Over the course of his seven year career, Hibbert has never played 30 minutes a night. He’s bumped up against that threshold twice — 29.8 minutes/game in 2012 and 29.7 minutes/game in 2014 — but he’s never cracked that barrier. Last season he saw his lowest average per game (25.3 minutes) since his 2nd year in the league.
The combination of fatigue and match up issues limiting his time on the floor is not new for Hibbert. Back in April of 2014, Hibbert was benched for most of a game against the Hawks. From the Indy Star’s gamer:
“I considered resting Roy before tonight’s game because he looks worn down; he’s a 7-2 player that’s played every game this year, which is very rare,” Vogel said. “He looks to me to be worn down. He’s giving good effort, but he looks to me to be worn down.”
Besides their view of Hibbert’s fatigue, combining that with the Hawks’ stretching big men of center Pero Antic and power forward Paul Millsap — the pair combined to attempt six of Atlanta’s 27 3-pointers — and they offered that the Big Dawg had to be locked up.
“(Vogel) just made a coaching decision. It wasn’t anything about with Roy,” West said. “It was more about they were a tough cover. We didn’t have much time to prepare for them, you know. He just wanted to give him a chance to rest in that second half.”
Now, to be fair to Hibbert, as Vogel noted this was a game in April and Hibbert had been in the lineup every night to that point. All players wear down over the course of the year, so that should not be held against him.
However, If the Lakers hope to make any noise by rising above the low expectations leveled on them this season, Hibbert will play a major role. But it will be hard for him to have the type of impact the team will need (and what Hibbert wants to provide) if he’s not able to stay on the floor. Whether that’s because of match ups, fatigue, or generally being worn down the results are the same.
Hibbert, again, to his credit, seems to understand this very well. In fact, he started this process earlier this year in February with fitness instructor Gunnar Peterson and continued that work through the summer:
Hibbert started working with Peterson during this year’s All-Star Weekend, and he was so impressed that he bought a house just two blocks from the trainer’s gym entering the summer before he was traded to the Lakers.
“He was my first NBA guy in this summer, and he never missed a workout,” Peterson said. “He dropped a ton of body fat, he got stronger, his movement improved—his head is right.”
Whether this additional work and the results produced lead to Hibbert actually being able to play longer minutes isn’t yet known. It would seem to be a stretch that, in his 8th season, Hibbert would suddenly become a 30+ minute a night player when he has not been that to this point in his career.
However, knowing he’s put himself in the best position to do so is really all he can do. Hopefully that work translates to the floor with an increased minute load.
This is huge! Hibbert was a great pick up especially for a defensive deficient and injury prone team. Hibbert has played every season since 2007 and has only been seriously injured in 2011 but he still played 65 games that year. The fact that he is invested enough to drop 14 pounds shows what the Lakers have been lacking and that is dedication. Although his success has been up and down, people have to understand that he is the most durable big man in a new organization that thrives off of big men. I am no psychic, but on paper, this is a great acquisition. We will just have to wait and see.
I’m still scratching my head about the off-season acquisition of Hibbert. He had his best years when he was matched in the front court with David West and Danny Granger/Paul George. The Lakers don’t have that kind of front court talent/experience. Plus Hibbert peaked statistically 4 years ago — that’s forever in basketball years.
While I applaud him for getting into better shape I don’t think he really helps the Lakers when he’s on the floor. Russell, Clarkson and Randle will excel in an up-tempo pace and that is not Hibbert’s game. The league is going smaller so he’ll have to guard centers who are apt to run and be far more more mobile than he. I see a lot of foul trouble in his future. Unfortunately, Hibbert has no offensive game to speak of so he can’t make the opposing team pay a price for going small.
I’m afraid we are going to see a line similar the recent past with Hibbert: 26 MPG, 10 PTS, 7 REBs. No quite the value you’d expect from a $16 million a year player.
I wrote Mitch a letter towards the end of last year and I asked him to look at three options for the Lakers Center position:
• Sign Greg Monroe — signed with the Bucks
• Pursue Myers Leonard — he’s on the verge of a breakout season in Portland
• Reach out to Jan Vesely — who just average 19 – 10 in the EuroBasket tournament. Vesely flamed out in the NBA as a PF but he has switched to C while back in Europe to much success.
The key for me was that all three of the above are young. Monroe has arrived and will likely soon be an all-star. He would have been a long term building block. Both Leonard and Vesely are unproven but neither of them cost what Hibbert does and if they work then they are young enough to pay off longer term.
The FO envisioned that the acquisitions of Hibbert, Bass and Williams would make the Lakers a playoff team (Jim is on the clock remember). However, the reality is the Lakers should have allowed themselves to struggle one more year, keep their pick and get another young building block.
The veterans acquired are just average and will cause the Lakers to lose the needed draft pick while still missing the playoffs (by a wide margin). Most importantly, none of Hibbert, Bass and Williams really project to adding value long-term, they are all near term players so their impact will be short lived and quickly forgotten.
Hibbert, Bass and Williams were simply poor backup plans for Jim Buss and his elite free agent (30+ max players) delusions.
pat oslon says
Through dedication and hard work Roy should return to being an elite defender. He won’t be called on to score much so he will be able to concentrate more on defense and rebounding. He is a nice pick-up for this season and fills a definite void on our roster. Now let’s sit back and see how everything works it way out.
I’ve always like Myers Leonard. He plays hard and can actually play as a stretch Four – he has good range on his jumper. However, with the loss of Lopez the Blazers will gladly keep Myers and let him blossom in the Rose City.
Note: I think Randle should play the Three on defense and the Four on offense. In my mind to leverage his skills he should be teamed with a stretch Four who can give Randle room to play near the basket on offense. Which is why someone like Leonard would be so intriguing.
Snarky Goerge says
I think acquiring Hibbert would have made more sense if the Lakers truly had a young center they were developing. Now, everyone will point to Upshaw as that guy but he’s very much in the ‘hope for a miracle’ category. Hibbert would have made a good tutor to someone like KAT who has the talent but just needs time.
In fact, if you are Hibbert you want Upshaw to show some real promise because it then makes sense for the Lakers to resign him to provide the veteran Ying to Upshaw;s youthful Yang. Let’s just hope if that comes about that the Lakers aren’t offering max years and max dollars.
While I understand the Lakers faithful is rallying around Hibbert. I agree with Joel. Hibbert’s contributions are likely to track around his production these past few years — nothing to get too excited about.
However, the reality is the Lakers should have allowed themselves to struggle one more year, keep their pick and get another young building block.
Normally an insulated FO like the Lakers, who don’t have to answer to anyone but themselves, would have the freedom to do the right thing. And in this case the right thing would have been to keep the pick and get another young stud to build on.
However, the Nash trade, which created the limited protection to the pick, Jim’s promise to compete and the fact that Jeanie and Jim aren’t on the same page has created an environment where doing the right thing isn’t always the path that’s chosen.
Until Jeanie and Jim get this FO thing straightened out we’re going to have more seasons like this one where part of the roster screams moving forward and the other part is hedged to make room for free agents who will never come.
Question for Lakers fans: Who would you rather have playing center for the Lakers: Pau or Hibbert?
Anonymous: Question for Lakers fans: Who would you rather have playing center for the Lakers: Pau or Hibbert?
Well as the Euro tournament showed Pau still has considerable game. So the answer in my mind would be: Pau. However, once Kobe went down with the Achilles injury that version of the Lakers was for all intents and purposes done. Finished. End of story. The failure to realize that fact has prolonged the team’s rebuild.
With the team capped out, the FO in denial, the roster being razor thin on talent it didn’t really make sense to have Pau around. I mean he was here for 2013/14 team and the team was horrible. Plus, that experience burned Pau’s Lakers bridges for good.
With the team in obvious rebuild mode the question really is why the FO didn’t trade Pau sooner and try and get something for him. Pau should have been traded during the summer of 2013. Kobe should have sat out the majority of the 2013/14 season in recovery of the Achilles injury. The Lakers should have used Kobe’s injury as cover to make a run at Andrew Wiggins — the clear prize of the 2014 draft.
Jim misplayed the 2013/14 season and it cost the Lakers Andrew Wiggins. In my mind that is the biggest error of the Jim Buss regime. It’s a bigger mistake than signing Kobe to that crazy extension. Randle is a tweener — a player without an NBA position. Wiggins was the superstar of that draft and the Lakers simply didn’t plan ahead to get him.
From ESPN: BENNETT, WOLVES MOVING TOWARD BUYOUT
Former #1 pick. Should the Lakers be interested?
I think Roy will have a breakout season and average 2.3 blocks per game and be that rim protector that the Lakers need. It’s a contract year and Roy has something to prove.
I believe that the true measure of Roy Hibbert’s contribution this year will be almost entirely on the defensive end. Whether his offensive numbers are 10 and 7 or 12 and 9 is almost irrelevant. His blocked shots and defensive statistics, on the other hand, will be all-important.
He will be playing in a new environment with a new team for a new coach and will be 14 lbs. lighter. And he is, after all, only 28 years old — not exactly ancient. I suggest we give him a fair chance to show what he can do.
But make no mistake, with Hibbert, It will be all about defense. And he knows it.
Laker uruguayo says
Comparto la línea de opinión de Mid-Wildshire y Pat Oslon. Creo que Hibbert es un mejor ajuste para los Lakers que el buscado Alridge, y un producto más acabado que Monroe. Si a eso le sumamos el costo del canje y la mejora corporal y mental que Hibbert parece buscar, puede ser el robo de la agencia libre. Va a traer defensa sólida en una zona débil, donde faltaba altura (Davis, Black) o habilidad (Sacre). Y si no funciona, sólo se habrá gastado algo de dinero y una futura selección que puede ser por encima del lugar 45.
No estoy de acuerdo con el planteo de buscar mantener la próxima selección de primera ronda. Hay que ser o parecer muy malo para entrar entre los tres primeros del draft, y realmente, ni ese es el espíritu de los Lakers, ni Kobe se lo merece. Y aún siendo un mal equipo, la lotería puede no favorecernos, como le ocurrió recientemente a los Knicks.
Dos comentarios finales. En primer lugar, yo no estoy convencido aún que Wiggins sea la mejor perspectiva del draft 2014, quiero verlo cuando le toque liderar a un equipo con aspiraciones, parece faltarle la actitud que Randle parece tener. Y probablemente hubiésemos optado por Embiid, y hoy seguiríamos hablando de la maldición de los Lakers. En segundo lugar, estoy convencido que la (afortunada o hábilmente planificada) combinación Russell-Upshaw nos va a dar un mejor futuro que cualquiera de las otras opciones, ya sean Okafor (sin duda) o KAT (que además no estaba disponible).
In college Bennett could hit the three with consistency. Maybe he and Randle could be our forwards for the future. Bennett could be the young stud we would otherwise miss out on in next summer’s draft by having to give our pick yo Philly.
What would be the cost of Bennet? Does it make sense financially? Lakers may be able to get some use of the guy as a C/PF
I would consider singing bennet to a deal simular to the one we gave upshaw, just involving a few more bucks. Everything involving more than a mill in guaranteed money is a waste of cash for a project like him
Back to Anonymous’ question about Hibbert or Pau. Any time I would take Hibbert as center over Pau. Pau is one of the greatest power forwards the Lakers ever had. As a center, his defense isn’t to my liking.
Bennett played well in his one year in college but he should not have been the #1 overall pick. I think that pressure stunted his development. He’s 6’8″ in shoes but with a long 7’1″ wingspan. I always thought he was more of a Three than a Four as he does have college three range.
I don’t think he’s ever been in really good shape – even in college he looked soft. It’s just that he was so talented it didn’t matter. The chubby Bennett probably doesn’t stick in the league as I think that has contributed to his NBA problems. But if you could get him in great shape then he’d play better and gain confidence.
The Lakers need talent, so I say the Lakers should go for it.
Picking up Bennett would fit the Lakers MO of collecting lottery wash outs but me thinks they have enough project players to work on already. Do they have a shrink on staff?
T. Rogers says
Please keep posting. Lately I have made a diligent effort to get back to learning Spanish. I’ve been reading it, writing it, and speaking it it when I can. So reading your posts is great for me! To your last point, I really do hope the Russell/ Upshaw combination turns out as good as you think it will. Rookies are so hit or miss.
T. Rogers says
Also, a late congrats to Pau Gasol on winning yet another international tournament. The man is basketball personified and really should have retired a Laker.
LT Mitchell says
If Hibbert can play close to 30 minutes a game, I would not be surprised if he reaches his career high in blocks this season. Not only will he be playing at likely the fastest pace of his career, but he will also be anchoring a defense with inferior perimeter defenders (compared to Indiana). As a result, he will see more block opportunities on a per minute basis than at any point in his career. The question is, will these added opportunities lead to more foul trouble? I would think so, but his improved conditioning and mobility should help offset that. I’m expecting a big year from Hibbert.
I have no problem with the Lakers picking up Bennett. The bottom line to me is that the Lakers need talent and he’s only two years removed from being the #1 overall pick in the draft. I’d certainly kick the tires on him if I could.
What the downside? You’d have to release Ryan Kelly, Jonathan Holmes, Robert Sacre or Jabari Brown to make room. But let’s be realistic, those guys weren’t going to be getting consistent minutes anyway.
The upside is if Bennett works out the Lakers have a running mate for Randle for the next 4 or 5 years.
If Hibbert can play close to 30 minutes a game …
I remain skeptical that Hibbert will be all that even if he is in the best shape of his career. He wasn’t all that when the league played more traditional 5’s early in his career. Now the league has embraced small lineups and pace is not something Hibbert has ever excelled at.
I’ll wait for the preseason and see how this plays out. But I am not high on Hibbert.
Bennett and Randle are both 4s that can play the 3 some. No way long term they fit well together, but I would definitely sign him. If he plans out he would be an excellent trade piece. Plus it is not like taking a flyer on the team would hurt them. They tried with Wesley Johnson, and although he didn’t plan out, it was a reasonable gamble. But I think his agent will want to steer him to a team with more playing time. Lakers are jammed at the 4 (Randle, Bass, Black, Kelly, Holmes, and some Kobe according to BS).
I don’t know Bennett’s game but he’s always looked doughy to me. Since the team seems so insanely venomous towards Nick Young, a 6’8″ questionable Bennett would be worth a year of kicking the tires. Let’s see if the two camps think there can be a fit.
It’s a strange world where someone gets a 200 million dollar shoe contract and has to be told that he can’t wear a competitor’s shoe. Similarly, strange world that it gets notice that an athlete actually might choose to get in shape. It would seem to be a given but alas if Roy wants to see 14+ million next year, he did the professional thing. If he takes pride in the joy of playing the game, he did the right thing. I hope that it translates into multiple wins so then we all win.
@ Joel, I disagree with you. Hibbert is not old. He is only 28. Greg Monroe is 25. But Monroe would have been a bad player for the Lakers (and remember the Lakers went after him and he decided he would rather win so they didn’t have much of a choice). Monroe is a bad defender. Which only looks worse on a team with no rim protection. Monroe needs post touches. Means Randle would get none and the offense would be very slow. Which hurts the game of the Lakers most important player (Russell). They need to be a pick and roll team. Randle sets surprisingly good screens, but we will have to see if he can score over guys on the roll. Monroe would essentially take that time away from Randle and change the offense.
Vesely is playing well because he is in Europe. Maybe he could be decent as a back up center here, but why would he leave Europe where he gets to star to be a back up that would likely get booed and called a bust by most fan bases they visit (putting more pressure on him). Would be interesting in the PNR though.
Leonard would have been hard to pry away (Blazers had more cap space than anyone and no one to spend it on). Plus you may think he is going to break out, but a lot of people have thought that about a lot of players. The biggest mistakes are the ones that gamble on potenial and sign a long term big money deal (like Kwame, Eddie Curry, etc). If the Lakers got Leonard and he was a bust and you paid him $16 million a year, guess what, you just made the biggest mistake in Lakers history and set them back 4 years. Fans like you would roast them for that and the pitch forks would be out.
Hibbert is a safe move. You know what you are getting (basically) and at the endd of the year he comes off the books. Then you can either move on or pay he what you think a fair amount is. See this is where Lakers fans miss the most on the rebuild plan. Lakerss want the flexibility. Yes so far it has done nothing for them, but every year it might. The Kwame/Gasol trade is a prime example. Picking up Shaq in the off season, going and getting Nash, Payton, Malone, etc. See things like the Kevin Love thing happen and the Lakers are waiting for the next star to want out (looks like Cousins will be it). Be able to absorb a big contract is important. The Lakers are sitting and waiting for the perfect time to strike. Fans hate waiting, but really it is the smartest thing you can do. The next time the Lakers pull off a Kobe for Divac like trade it will be because they waited for the right time and market.
Bennett and Randle are both 4s that can play the 3 some.
I think is what makes therm perfect. The Lakers would just roll out ‘forwards’ and allow Bennett and Randle to play the opposing match-up that works to their advantage. Right now Bennett has more range so he may play the Three on offense and allow Randle to play the Four. I know Randle is quick enough to guard Threes so that allows Bennett to guard the Four where his superior wingspan is an asset.
The more I think about this the more I like it.
1. He has a big expiring deal.
2. He will help to stabilize the interior defense which may help Randle’s development arc.
3. He will probably have a good year by his own standards given that it is a contract year.
4. Kobe probably liked it and Hibbert may help Kobe’s last year go better.
1. He is another move that falls in the gray area between competing and rebuilding and revolves around “flexibility.”
2. He is a very limited player in some respects and has been in decline.
3. He cost a draft pick, albeit a second-rounder.
4. Like Chris Kaman, he is not the kind of guy you really tank with, and the Lakers look like they will win enough games to lose their pick but not compete for a playoff spot.
Laker uruguayo says
T. Rogers, ¡gracias por su aliento! A veces tengo mis dudas sobre si seguir escribiendo en español, ya que me preocuparía ser una molestia para el resto de los corresponsales. De hecho, a veces he escrito en inglés, pero no me gusta cometer errores ortográficos (y por algún tweet de Darius, a él tampoco). Por otra parte, supongo que somos muchos los latinos hispanohablantes que seguimos este sitio, así que tal vez se anime a escribir alguno más. Nuevamente, ¡gracias por su respaldo!
Hibbert may be able to play 30-33min.and help on D .14 and 7-8rbs seems possible. I like what I hear from him,but waiting to see him produce on the court.Didn`t we have another 7ft guy who wore #17?