The Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves are struggling franchises that have been stagnant far too long.
Both teams are hoping that their blossoming third-year big men will change all of that sooner rather than later.
Roy Hibbert had 27 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Pacers to a 128-124 overtime preseason victory over Kevin Love's Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Love had 28 points and 11 rebounds and Sebastian Telfair added 19 points and six assists for the Wolves (5-2), whose only losses in the preseason have been to the Pacers.
Hibbert dropped 22 pounds this summer -- going from 14 percent body fat to 8.5 -- and is noticeably quicker on his feet.
"I just want to keep building and keep learning and get my conditioning up," he said. "I read that some players get nights off and I don't want that. I just want to keep working, keep building my wind so I can play 35 minutes a game. I've never played that many minutes in my life."
Paul George scored 17 points and hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter
and veteran James Posey scored seven points in the final 40 seconds to help seal the win.
Indiana (3-3) was playing without Danny Granger, who sprained his left ankle in the game against Charlotte on Friday night.
The Wolves were short-handed as well, playing without starting center Darko Milicic because of a neck injury and swingman Martell Webster because of back spasms.
The Pacers ran coach Jim O'Brien's shoot-first, ask-questions-later offense to a T, going 16 for 35 from 3-point range.
But the most compelling part of the game was the matchup between the two blossoming big men.
Love and Hibbert were both drafted in 2008 out of prestigious programs -- Love from UCLA and Hibbert from Georgetown. Both big men brought superior passing skills with them to the pros that were evident early in their careers, but it's taken a little time for the rest of their offensive games to catch up.
Hibbert started showing signs last season when he averaged 11.7 points and entered the game on Tuesday night averaging 15.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the preseason.
In a show of just how far he's come offensively, Hibbert started drawing double teams in the second half, then finding cutting Pacers for easy buckets. He had six assists.
He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a tip dunk and a putback after two offensive rebounds that gave Indiana a 102-100 lead.
His demanding coach wants to see more, though.
When asked about Hibbert's improvement, O'Brien said, "I haven't seen it yet. I don't think he's had a real strong preseason. I think he can play much better than he's playing now."
Coming off a gold-medal winning run with Team USA at the world championships in Turkey this summer, Love has been outstanding in the preseason for Minnesota. He pouted for much of last season while being used as a sixth man for the struggling Timberwolves, but has shown a determination and drive to be a team leader this fall.
"That's earned," Love said. "You have to come into that role [naturally]. ... I'm hoping to be that guy."
Love had 32 points and 13 rebounds in just over 27 minutes in a victory over Milwaukee on Sunday night and was shooting 61 percent from 3-point range coming into the game.
He made 9 of 14 field goals and also showed off his improved defensive game, swatting a shot by Hibbert in the fourth period.
"He finds a way to beat you," O'Brien said of Love. "He's a good scorer and a teriffic rebounder and just a fundamentally sound basketball player."