Larry Bird’s comment on Roy Hibbert’s 2015 season.

http://www.indycornrows.com/2015/4/21/8461409/fact-checking-claims-about-roy-hibberts-season

Larry Bird, Indiana’s President of Basketball Operations, was uncompromisingly forthright when expressing his negative opinion of Roy Hibbert’s play this season to the assembled media at the Pacers’ end-of-season press conference last Friday afternoon. From underscoring the 7-footer’s decreased productivity to laying out plans to reduce the lumbering center’s role, Bird’s pointed remarks read less like a motivational tactic as much as they did a calculated attempt to prod Hibbert into opting out this summer.

The problem is, though somewhat dependent upon personal interpretation, some of Bird’s barbs do not tell the whole story. Here are the facts about Roy Hibbert’s season and future:

Claim: Bird’s negative assessment of the 7-footer’s play: “I didn’t think he played well, to be honest … I thought at times he played well, he always plays hard, he’s very durable — but I don’t think he had a great year.”

First and foremost, Hibbert needs to be evaluated through the lens of defensive impact. Being the first, second or even third scoring option is not Roy’s primary purpose on this team, so why criticize him for something he is not readily being asked to do?

On the whole, Hibbert was still an elite rim protector this season. Per SportVU defensive impact data, Hibbert allowed just 42.6% of opponent field goals at the rim, good for fourth-best in the league minimum 7.0 opponent field goal attempts. The maverick of verticality also saved 2.62 points per 36 minutes, via the rim protection stats provided by Nylon Calculus.