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View Full Version : Is Roy Hibbert like Jamaal Tinsley? And a bit of a farewell



imawhat
03-12-2012, 03:20 AM
Now that I have your attention, please bare with me. This is not a comparison of their personalities, playing styles or mentalities. On the surface and in most ways, they're opposites.

In general, NBA seasons have a pretty consistent pattern. Teams work on their execution and conditioning in the preseason, but we've heard the saying that nothing replaces regular season games. Teams struggle offensively while looking great defensively. This usually lasts about a month or so, and then teams start to execute better. Team field goal percentages go up, player stats improve, scoring goes up, etc.

This regularly happens to the Pacers but looks deceiving. It appears that our defense looks great at the beginning of the season, but then goes into the can by January. What's really happening is the beginning of a string of adjustments that occur throughout the NBA. By April, the finest teams have made both offensive and defensive adjustments that raise the general level of play to its highest level of the season.

But what we're seeing with Roy Hibbert goes completely against the normal NBA trend. He typically plays his best ball at the beginning of the season while most players are struggling. Then, as teams typically look better on offense and worse on defense, Roy hits a wall in just about every category. His field goal shooting and scoring go down, as well as rebounding, blocks and other areas. It reminds me a lot of Jamaal Tinsley, another player that I thought played his best basketball in November.

I decided to pull some information from basketball-reference.com on both Roy and Jamaal's careers, then sort the career data by month to see how their monthly averages trended over the course of a season. Some data was left out. For instance, Jamaal was benched in favor of Kenny Anderson to start the '03-'04 season so it was disregarded. Roy's playing time in his rookie season was heavily affected by foul trouble, so that was also removed. The results of the two players aren't identical, but they do have a pretty clear trend. Take a look:

http://i1150.photobucket.com/albums/o606/imawhatpacers/FGP.jpg

http://i1150.photobucket.com/albums/o606/imawhatpacers/PPG.jpg

http://i1150.photobucket.com/albums/o606/imawhatpacers/RPG.jpg

http://i1150.photobucket.com/albums/o606/imawhatpacers/Gamescore.jpg

There are more stats than these, but these paint a pretty broad picture.

With Roy, his perennial season funk can be linked to a bad game or bad series of plays. This season, it was the missed catch of a pass in the closing seconds of a home loss against the Magic. You could see his body language mirror last season's as O'Brien tinkered with the lineups. With Tinsley, it was a variety of injuries, ailments (e.g. sinusitis) and body language.

It really appears to be mental, but I keep coming back to the game logs for both players and noticing the timing of these funks. And when you contrast the timing of their bad play with the time that most teams are coming together, in January, it looks very peculiar.

I have a theory that may not be popular. And I have to say it's just that, a theory. There isn't a way to prove it, but it's my best educated guess at what we're seeing.

Much like the Pacers perennial collapsing defense in late December/early January masking the reality that opponents are executing their offense better, I think the mental struggles, injuries, etc. that plague Hibbert and Tinsley are also a mask to the reality. And this is where the similarities of Roy and Jamaal begin (and probably end). Both players work(ed) extremely hard in the offseason to transform their physique and shape. Say what you want about Jamaal, but he came into just about every preseason in amazing shape. He'd hire a chef, start weights for the first time in his life, do some heavy running, and come back down 15-20 lbs from the end of the previous season. Roy is notorious for the amount of work he puts in during the offseason. We've now seen Roy completely transform his body in the offseason twice in two completely different ways. Last season it was weight loss and quickness, this season it was strength and size.

It's really a testament to the work ethic of both players, but unfortunately it's also a testament to their natural condition. There are some characteristics that come very naturally to some players; so easily that their natural condition is sustainable in an NBA environment without much effort. For instance, some players like Shaq have natural strength and power, while others John Wall or Jeff Teague have natural speed. In a less sexy fashion, some players have amazing natural stamina/endurance. This is not to discount the hard work of any player, but players like Latrell Sprewell, Allen Iverson and Reggie Miller could run laps around their competition and usually looked stronger at the end of games than they did at the beginning. And they could sustain this over the course of the season and especially into the playoffs. On a smaller scale, I think there are players that can maintain similar shape throughout a season but have a limit to their endurance in each game. I think that's one of Mike Dunleavy Jr.'s biggest problems. That's why there's a huge difference in his 1st/2nd half stats.

Like Mike, I think that's one of Roy's and Jamaal's biggest downfalls, but on a much larger scale. They are not naturally inclined to have good endurance. And while they dedicate months and months of time and effort into their conditioning in the offseason, it's something that's impossible for them to maintain once the grind of the regular season kicks in. And since they can't maintain that time and effort into their training, their bodies start to slowly lose the conditioning that was created by the extra time they put into it. Roy and Jamaal play well in November because their bodies allow them to. Roy and Jamaal play poorly by January because their bodies are (in a sense) failing them. And then both players slowly adjust and gradually increase their quality of play as the season goes on.

If my theory is true, then it's bad news for us. I don't see how Roy can overcome this problem, much like Jamaal was unable. He's clearly trying, and from all accounts he's still putting in the effort to work out and train after every game, as well as adhering to a strict diet. Truthfully that's all he can do, but a limit is just that; a limit. He'll be limited by his endurance for the remainder of his career. This may have been part of what Jim O'Brien referred to when saying that Roy needed to learn how to "take time off" during the game and by making the energy he spends on the court as efficient as possible.

I hope I'm wrong, and in no way would I ever fault Roy. He still is and will always be one of my favorite Pacers.



On a different note, circumstances are making it difficult for me to find time to post here, so this is a bit of a farewell. I want to say thanks to Hicks and the rest of PacersDigest for having such a great forum. Come playoffs, I hope to be back in Indy for some games, and maybe I can catch up with a few of you at the Fieldhouse. 'Til then, go Pacers.

Eleazar
03-12-2012, 04:04 AM
I think you have the good beginnings of an excellent research paper.

The easiest way to combat this is to get a quality back-up center so we can better control Hibbert's minutes and not run him into the ground. I don't care what people think of DC and Price or any of our guards, the back-up center position was always and is still our biggest weakness, especially if your hypothesis is correct (which I believe it is).

wintermute
03-12-2012, 07:43 AM
A lot of interesting thoughts in your piece, but not enough evidence to make definite conclusions I think. You're effectively projecting Hibbert's career path based on a sample size of one, and that sample being a guy who plays a different position and has a different body type at that.

I'm pretty sure that with Tinsley, starting strong and finishing weak isn't his only problem. How about the off-court distractions, or his seeming inability to get along with coaches? That Tinsley couldn't overcome his limitations doesn't mean that Hibbert definitely couldn't. How about others who overcame natural limitations to develop long careers? I'm not sure where you can find a database of players who show the same sort of season pattern, but if someone could I think that would make a better starting point for discussing your theory.

So Hibbert has rebuilt his body twice, for quickness and then for strength - might he not try to develop endurance next? I have no idea whether he could or not, but then I didn't think he could get quicker either.

Despite this criticism, I think you've hit on a lot of things that are wrong with the Pacers. Not sure what could be done about it, other than hope Hibbert continues to improve.

Brad8888
03-12-2012, 10:46 AM
Regardless of my overall take on this analysis

:noooo:

:wtf2:

:clintshudder:

:notamused:

:vaderno:

:thisisnotfun:



PLEASE DON'T GO!

Sookie
03-12-2012, 05:09 PM
I agree with you completely. Especially since I swear I heard Roy has Asthma.

But I do think there is a fix. There are endurance drill, which I wonder if Roy has paid much attention to. He seems to work on his weight and strength a lot, but that's not necessarily the same thing as endurance.

And..get a really good backup and limit his minutes to between 25-28 MPG.

PacersandIU
03-12-2012, 05:47 PM
I think Roy has infinitely better attitude that Tins... he eats right and definitely tries to improve more than Tins-- I always felt like Tins knew he was next on the list to make the all-star game, and it was only a matter of time. He probably could have, but he didn't have the work ethic that Roy has. You get Roy a good back-up and he'll be able to compete longer and at a higher level.

Naptown_Seth
03-12-2012, 09:25 PM
Actually I don't think Roy falls off as much as other people catch up to him. He outplays them early because he's outworked them early. But as they play their way into shape and up to speed, as well as start to focus on the job more, they stop being caught unprepared to match his level of play.


I do think there is also a mental aspect to it, but some of that can come from losing the advantage you had on guys early in the season. Things that were working stop working so well, and then it gets in your head and you become self-conscious of the struggles. Then it really builds on itself.


This shows with how Roy will rush shots and struggle against doubles. I think this year it got noticeably worse right when he was announced as an all-star. Other teams/players take notice and focus on you more, and you gain the burden of living up to the rep.

special ed
03-13-2012, 10:50 AM
I agree with some of what others have said...others "catching up to him" and the "infinitely better attitude."
But to compare him to a guy who had the talent yet was not working to increase his skills? Or even knew that he had to continue to work to get better?
In summary, nah, Tinsley's graph maybe similar but it's just a small sample. Return to this when Roy's career is over and witness a completely different comparison.

BillS
03-13-2012, 11:01 AM
One interesting external factor is that Roy has changed his body type for the last two seasons. It is possible that the kind of familiarity with his own abilities that helps a player recover when other players make adjustments to him that carries through to the next season(s) has not been possible for Roy due to those changes.

I'd be more interested in seeing if this trend changes next year, as I think Roy's issues are no longer with his body mass and strength but with how he uses them.

Nuntius
03-13-2012, 02:51 PM
On a different note, circumstances are making it difficult for me to find time to post here, so this is a bit of a farewell. I want to say thanks to Hicks and the rest of PacersDigest for having such a great forum. Come playoffs, I hope to be back in Indy for some games, and maybe I can catch up with a few of you at the Fieldhouse. 'Til then, go Pacers.

Noooooo. We need more good posters here. Farewell, my friend :(

I hope you're back soon.

naptownmenace
03-13-2012, 04:43 PM
The Pacers' guards, in all honesty, haven't helped Roy out at all. He does a good job of beating his man up the court and fights for good position many times throughout the game only to find that the Guards can't seem to get him the ball.

The passing on this team is terrible. The Pacers are near the bottom of the league in assists because when they pass the ball it is routinely a second too late and the defender has recovered. I think this is effecting Roy more than anything else.

Midcoasted
03-13-2012, 11:48 PM
I'm not worried about Roy at all. While what you said may be true, stats don't tell the whole picture. Roy has played solid defense and has been able to stay on the court. Sure his rebounding isn't all world, but it is better than most believed it would ever be. He is one of the best at blocked shots in the NBA. That is a feat by it self.

I think that people are just too critical on him. He should be our 5th option on offense. And for a 5th option, he is pretty good offensively. West, Granger, Collison, and George all should have more offense than him. Still his unorthodox moves are unguardable. He just misses them. He just has to keep working and start hitting those shots. He is like an inch off.

Still not shabby for a 5th option. He can put up 20 any given night with ease when his shot is falling. His only problem is consistency. Defensively, he is there. I don't think anyone can say any of the Pacers are consistent on offense right now. I think it is more opposing scouts, coaches, and players exposing our weaknesses when we lose than people realize. Let's not forget this is the NBA, there really isn't a terrible team. There are inconsistent teams. But any given day the worst can beat the best.

Midcoasted
03-13-2012, 11:52 PM
The Pacers' guards, in all honesty, haven't helped Roy out at all. He does a good job of beating his man up the court and fights for good position many times throughout the game only to find that the Guards can't seem to get him the ball.

The passing on this team is terrible. The Pacers are near the bottom of the league in assists because when they pass the ball it is routinely a second too late and the defender has recovered. I think this is effecting Roy more than anything else.

I often wonder this. It seems we are trying to prevent the turnover, then we wait a second and turn it over anyways, or Roy gets knocked out of position. Sometimes the risk is worth the reward. Throw it to him when he has position down low.

naptownmenace
03-15-2012, 04:08 PM
I often wonder this. It seems we are trying to prevent the turnover, then we wait a second and turn it over anyways, or Roy gets knocked out of position. Sometimes the risk is worth the reward. Throw it to him when he has position down low.

One thing I notice last night is that George Hill works so much better with Roy. He's able to get him the ball in the position to do something with it. The same for AJ.