Hibbert among rising youngsters
"I want to be fundamental like Tim, dominant like Shaq and run like Amar'e," he said.
Yes, he means Duncan, O'Neal and Stoudemire. But if that sounds like some childhood fantasy, consider that Hibbert was speaking in the afterglow of a career-high 26-point outing in the Pacers' win over the Magic on Tuesday. And consider that Orlando big man
So forgive his giddiness.
The 7-foot-2 second-year center is among the young, restless and emerging players in the NBA who are making their mark. Hibbert has scored 21 or more points in three of the Pacers' last four games, boosting his season averages to 10.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in 23.5 minutes.
His Duncan-like effort against Howard -- which included eight rebounds, four blocks and three assists -- represented a peak performance that won't become the norm, but at least indicates his potential.
Hibbert's continued development can have a major impact on the Pacers, who have tended to pitch tents around the three-point arc in coach
Hibbert brings intangibles, too. The Pacers are one of the league's most deadpan teams, rarely displaying more emotion than obligatory, half-hearted high-fives, free of eye contact. Hibbert is a tempest in the Dead Sea, offering displays of unabashed joy when he or his teammates make a big play.
"Sometimes the arena can be a little dead, so you have to bring your own energy," he said.
What do his teammates think?
"They think I'm crazy," he said. "They think I have Tourette's or something. That's just who I am. Hopefully I can change the game at times in terms of being vocal, or being a cheerleader on the sideline."
Here's a look at five other young guys who are becoming game-changers -- with or without their cheerleading skills -- for their teams.