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Monday May 5, 2008 9:12 am

Pro Prospect Watch: Roy Hibbert

Roy HibbertContinuing on with what will hopefully be a string of substance-filled draft prospects, I’m taking it upon myself to break down the hopefully-fruitful career of one Roy Hibbert.

It feels like Hibbert has been around for years simply because he didn’t leave early like many of his colleagues.  Jeff Green went on to have a solid second half in Seattle, but warranted only fantasy consideration in deeper leagues.  Many thought that Hibbert would warrant top-10 consideration had he come out last year.  Did another season at Georgetown help? 

Not so much.  Draft Express currently has Hibbert ranked 17th overall, falling to the Raptors.  This is an interesting mix as the Raps took a guy that they thought would play the middle for the foreseeable future in Andrea Bargnani only two years ago.  Bargnani took a huge step backwards this past year, and you have to wonder what the plans for the future are down low.  It’s not every day that you can write off a top draft selection only three years later – unless his name is Darko Milicic. 

Out of the gate, Hibbert strikes me as a guy that will have a lot more impact on the fantasy world than he will on the floor.  But this may not be worth listening to, as I was one of the biggest anti-Joakim Noah people out there before last season, and ended up picking him up on several teams where I needed the hustle numbers.  Hibbert could be considered Noah-like, but without all of the hair and a little less intensity – which could be his downfall.

Hibbert brings a solid field goal percentage, draining nearly 61 percent of his attempts over the course of the 2007/08 season.  One would hope that this would translate to an increase in numbers from his junior year, but his points (13.4) and rebounds (6.4) were flat from his third campaign, forcing him down many draft boards.  Considering that Hibbert is 7’2”, less than seven rebounds per game is definitely troubling.  Thankfully, the big man makes up some ground with his 2.2 blocks per contest.

On the offensive side, he has a decent hook shot, which is well-documented.  His touch has earned him many accolades, and his footwork is a lot better than many guys of the same build.  However, the fact that many have considered him to be robot-like without the ball means that he has an awful lot to learn if he’s going to succeed at the next level.

Whichever NBA team decides to take the first-round plunge with Hibbert will be taking a considerable risk.  Did the big man plateau during his junior year?  Did he just coast through his final campaign, knowing that he would be making a few dollars within months?  Seven-footers do not exactly grown on trees, but the fact that he was likely passed over by guys like Brook Lopez and Kevin Love due to their play over the final few months may come back to haunt Hibbert. 

His fantasy value this year will obviously depend on which team he’ll suit up.  In all actuality, the fact that he could be falling to a considerably better team may help out given the likelihood of better teammates.  If he falls to 18, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Wizards go with the hometown hero. They could use another big man, and Hibbert’s already very well known in those parts.  Could the Cavs take him at 19?  With Anderson Varejao likely playing elsewhere within two years, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas getting older by the minute – it wouldn’t be too far-fetched.

Right now, I see a guy that could put up about eight points, six boards and a block in about 20 minutes of playing time.  This will fluctuate depending on the system, but may warrant back-up center consideration come fantasy draft day.

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