Former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy put the blathering, Johnny-Come-Lately Roy Hibbert fans in their place when asked if Hibbert has suddenly emerged as a better center than Dwight Howard.
“Come on, that one’s not close,” Van Gundy said during his weekly Thursday segment on our Open Mike morning radio show on 740 AM. “You could put that question to 30 general managers in the league — and give them the choice — and Indiana, out of loyalty, might take Hibbert although I would doubt it. The other 29 would not even hesitate. Everybody’s taking Dwight.
“I understand … Roy Hibbert is playing the best basketball of his career right now (against theHeat). You have to understand that Roy Hibbert during the regular season had seven games where he had (at least) 20 points and 10 rebounds and now he has three in this series. So now people are looking at him and saying he’s great. He averages 11 points per game in his career and he’s not a terrific rebounder although he is an elite-level defender. But on the offensive end of the floor he’s never done (what he’s doing now) and he’s really taking advantage of a very, very small Miami Heat team and a defender in Chris Bosh who right now in the series has just not stepped up into the battle at all.”
Van Gundy is absolutely right in that too many fans are just prisoners of the moment. As much as Magic fans may dislike Dwight, you can’t deny the fact that he is a significantly better player than Hibbert. Dwight had, by his standards, a subpar year and still averaged 17.1 points and led the league with 12.4 rebounds per game. Hibbert averaged 11.9 points and 8.3 rebounds during the regular season. By every measure except free throw shooting, Dwight has Hibbert beat.
The bottom line is this: Hibbert is having a great series, but Dwight is a great player.