Charlotte Hornets: Can Roy Hibbert Replace Al Jefferson’s Production?

Jan 31, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) celebrates with Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert (17) during the third quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kobe Bryant (24) celebrates with Los Angeles Lakers center Roy Hibbert (17) during the third quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Charlotte Hornets will be relying on newly acquired center, Roy Hibbert, to replace Al Jefferson‘s production off of the bench this season.

With Al Jefferson’s departure this offseason, the Charlotte Hornets were left without a key contributor off of the bench going forward. There was a big free agent market of back-up centers but the team decided to go with a low-risk, high-reward option when they signed Roy Hibbert. Although he is the complete opposite in terms of style of play from Big Al, he can still brings a lot to the table.

After a strong performance by Jefferson in the playoffs this past season, the Hornets weren’t able to retain his services as he singed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Indiana Pacers this summer. They then opted to sign Roy Hibbert to a one-year, $5 million contract after he was coming off of a down season with the Los Angeles Lakers. The team is hoping that Hibbert can replace Big Al with the second unit off of the bench.

Jefferson was (might still be) one of the best offensive, low post big men in the league today. He showed just how valuable he was during Charlotte’s postseason series against the Miami Heat. When head coach Steve Clifford inserted him into the starting line-up, it completely changed the complexion of the series and gave momentum to the Hornets.

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With Hibbert coming in to replace Big Al, most expect the team to be better defensively but worse offensively. That would be a fair assumption as Jefferson is a great offensive player who has his downfall on the defensive end. While Roy is a defensive specialist who struggles on the offensive low post at times.

Each player has their strengths but it is more about their weaknesses this season for the Charlotte Hornets. Hibbert and Jefferson could not be any more opposite but that was the move that the Hornets’ organization, front office, and coaching staff wanted. Charlotte was a balanced team who was 11th in points per game and ninth in opponents points per game last season.

Although they were great on both sides of the ball, it was easy to tell that they had a need at the center position. The Hornets needed a rim protector who could guard the paint. In the playoffs, Hassan Whiteside dominated both Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller because they were not great interior defenders. The addition of Hibbert allows for him to guard better offensive big men this season if Zeller has trouble with them.

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The biggest loss for the team will be Big Al’s production with the second unit and off of the bench. After being relegated to a back-up position, Jefferson flourished with the bench unit as he helped provide a scoring punch behind Cody Zeller. Roy Hibbert’s impact with the second unit will not be on the offensive end of the court but on the defensive end. He will not be able to replace Jefferson’s scoring with the bench unit.

Hibbert has never been a big time scorer and no one is expecting him to be that this season. He will be expected to come in off of the bench and impact the game by being a rim protector. This will be the opposite of what Big Al did but it may have the same level of importance for the team.

Let’s take a closer look at their stats and compare Roy Hibbert and Al Jefferson. According to

Per Game

Hibbert: 23.2 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 1.2 APG, 44.3% FG, 80.7% FT

Jefferson: 23.3 MPG, 12.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 1.5 APG, 48.5% FG, 64.9% FT

Per 36

Hibbert: 9.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 1.8 APG

Jefferson: 18.5 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 2.3 APG

Per 100 Possessions

Hibbert: 12.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 2.5 APG

Jefferson: 15.7 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 3.2 APG

It is clear from the stats that Jefferson is far superior in almost every aspect but when the team paid half of the price than what Big Al got, they were getting essentially half of the player as well. It isn’t clear if Hibbert’s career worst season with the Lakers will continue to be the trend in Charlotte.

He should have a bounce back season and a boost in production under Steve Clifford and with a winning team in the East. The Hornets will be banking on him returning to his form that he had with the Indiana Pacers just a few short years ago where he was a two-time all-star and one of the best defensive centers in the NBA.

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It was pretty clear when Hibbert was acquired that he would be the defensive minded big man who the Charlotte Hornets were missing last season. Roy will also be expected to take on a bigger scoring load as he must improve off of his horrid season for Los Angeles last year. Although he won’t’ fully replace the production of Al Jefferson off of the bench in terms of scoring, he can impact the game where Big Al couldn’t, which is on the defensive end.