Can Roy Hibbert Transform the Los Angeles Lakers’ Broken Defense?

Say what you will about Roy Hibbert's offense, but his dominance as a rim protector cannot be denied. Over the past several seasons for the Indiana Pacers, he anchored one of the best defensive units in the league. 

Now that he is heading to a Los Angeles Lakers team that ranked 29th in defensive rating last year, according to, he has his work cut out for him. The Lakers' paint protection was a virtual layup line. Opponents shot 60.1 percent within five feet, good for the fourth-worst rate in the league.

No longer will Hibbert be aided by long-armed perimeter stoppers in Paul George and Lance Stephenson or a slowly paced, half-court offense. Outside of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers' biggest strength is a young, energetic and athletic backcourt featuring Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams and D'Angelo Russell. 

Still, Hibbert's ability to alter shots without fouling is an asset that any team—no matter the style of play—can use. Last season, Hibbert ranked fourth in defensive field-goal percentage around the rim (minimum five attempts per game), according to's player tracking data.

The Pacers tried to push the tempo by featuring more small-ball lineups and up-and-down play, and they still maintained their top-tier defense with the league's eighth-best defensive rating, according to With top-tier defender George Hill missing a big chunk of the season as well, this was a pretty stunning accomplishment. 

Hibbert, nearly by himself, formed a top-10 NBA defense.

Much of that was due to the luxury Hibbert's skills afford. Although his laboring movements and inability to finish consistently around the rim hamper his overall value as a player, his elite timing and knowledge as a defender can shore up any team's back end.

And to his credit, he understands what his role is on the team, via the Los Angeles Times: "My job is to make sure I clog up...

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