Lakers Introduce Two-Time All-Star Roy Hibbert
The Lakers have found their defensive anchor in two-time all-star Roy Hibbert, who was introduced at the team’s El Segundo practice facility on Wednesday.
The 7-foot-2 Hibbert has been among the NBA’s best defenders over the past few years, ranking second in defensive rating in 2013 (96.9) and sixth in 2014 (98.2). From 2009 through 2014, he also placed in the league’s top 10 in blocks for each season.
Joining a team with veteran scorers — like Kobe Bryant, Nick Young and Lou Williams — as well as young offensive talents — such as Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell — Hibbert plans to leave his imprint on the other end of the ball.
“Looking at the team here, they have a lot of firepower,” Hibbert said. “… My main presence is going to be at the rim. Last year the Lakers were (29th) in defensive efficiency. So my job is to make sure I clog up the paint, (provide) help-side defense, and whatever else I get on the offensive end is candy. My main presence is going to be on defense to make sure these guys know I have their backs.”
Hibbert, who prides himself "on being able to be one of the best rim protectors," is certainly just that, as he stifled the opposition by not only blocking them, but also by using his length to alter their shots. The 28-year-old held opponents to just 42.6 percent shooting at the rim, which ranked fourth behind Rudy Gobert (40.4), Serge Ibaka (40.8) and Andrew Bogut (41.4).
Though he deals the most damage near the hoop, Hibbert has proven capable in defending his man across the floor. Players guarded by Hibbert shot just 41.9 percent last season, while those same players averaged a combined 47.8 field goal percentage throughout the year.
This 5.9 percent drop in efficiency was the fourth-best in the NBA, trailing only Tony Allen (-6.8), Draymond Green (-6.3) and Anthony Davis (-6.2).
Hibbert credits part of his defensive prowess to sessions with Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who taught him specifically about taking up space on defense and being mentally locked in.
“Kareem reaches out to me,” Hibbert said. “He comes to watch my workouts, and we stay in touch for the most part. He gives me little tidbits. I worked with him a lot last year. He keeps up with me, so he always gives me some advice, something to work on.”
Despite having a deterrent down low like Hibbert, General Manager Mitch Kupchak cautions that the other four Lakers on the floor can’t grow dependent on having their new center be the lone line of defense.
“It it all can’t fall on (Hibbert’s) plate,” Kupchak said. “If you’re on the perimeter, you just can’t let your guy get past you and say, “Oh, Roy’s back there.” It doesn’t work that way. Everybody’s gonna have to buy in defensively and make a commitment defensively. But it’s nice to know that if something breaks down, there is somebody back there that can protect the rim and the paint.”
Heading into the final year of his contract, Hibbert looks to make an impact with all facets of his game. He told Lakers.com that he dropped 16 pounds to 267 in preparation for this season.
Offensively, Hibbert has averaged double-digit scoring for each of his past six seasons, including 10.6 points per game last year. The New York City native has also shown to have solid touch from mid-range, and shot the second-best free throw percentage among centers (82.4).
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