Roy Hibbert’s Big Leap: Indiana Pacers big man Roy Hibbert was named an All-Star last season and got his monster payday this offseason by way of a maximum contract offer from the Portland Trail Blazers that the Pacers ultimately matched. Some could say Hibbert has gotten what he wanted over the last few years, but last year’s playoff run has left him even more motivated to live up to the new hype and expectations surrounding himself and his team.
“I feel comfortable within myself,” Hibbert said to HOOPSWORLD. “I feel that there’s more responsibility within me. I want that responsibility with that contract I was given. Whether it’s on offense or defense, I’m going to bring it every night, regardless.
“Last year was great. We played well. We want to build off last year. But we can’t think that just because where we were last year, we’re going to get there again without putting in the effort, sacrificing and putting a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it. We have our work cut out for us, it’s a process and hopefully we can build throughout the year.”
The Pacers found success a year ago mainly due to Hibbert’s emergence as a consistent big in the East and guard Paul George dominating at times. Hibbert believes that in order for the Pacers to get back to the postseason, it’s going to take more than just Danny Granger, George and himself.
“It comes from all of us,” Hibbert said. “Personally, I know I want to make the big jump, whether that is on offense or defense. But I think everybody needs to be on the same page, working and being hungry for success. You should never be satisfied with losing.
“Everybody is working extremely hard in preseason, very focused. We have our ups-and-downs on the road right now, we’re 2-2, two at home and two away losses. The first couple games of the season are on the road, so we got to be road warriors and be sure to win those. It’s a good experience playing in a ‘hostile’ environment, but we got work to do.”
Despite the fifth-best record in the NBA and a convincing playoff push a year ago, the Pacers remain a team overlooked and underestimated.
“We’re going to be under the radar no matter what because that’s what people want to see, the big names,” said Hibbert. “It’s fine with us, we’re just going to go about our business and bring it.”
“If we work at it, we can do pretty well. Expectations are high, but there are a few guys on this team that will make sure we work and not just, say, settle. “
“I think we can get to the Eastern Conference Finals, hopefully win our division,” Hibbert said confidently. “It’ll take time. Nothing is given; you have to go get it. We have a chance to be really good if we put it all together.”
The Pacers open 12 of their first 18 games on the road, so the path to the playoffs for the Pacers won’t be easy. But with their starting core back, another year of experience together and a hobbled Chicago Bulls team likely conceding the division with Derrick Rose sidelined for the bulk of the season due to an ACL injury, the Pacers could be home court heroes again this year, if they can meet their own expectations.
D.J. Augustin, The Backup: D.J. Augustin was the starting point guard for the worst team, percentage wise, in NBA history last year. To say he was looking for a fresh start is an understatement.
This summer, Augustin dumped the Charlotte Bobcats for the Indiana Pacers as a free agent. While he’s now the primary backup to George Hill – the starter for the Pacers – he’s happy to have a chance to be part of a winning organization.
Augustin talks with HOOPSWORLD about his new team and his expectations for the season.