Defensive Player of the First Trimester

Averaging 2.8 blocks per game, Indiana's Roy Hibbert anchors the best defensive team in the league. Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Player of the First Trimester: Roy Hibbert, Pacers

We showed our hand here a month ago in the Week 4 Power Rankings and nothing has changed since to force any adjustments.

Roy Hibbert might only rank second in the league in blocked shots at 2.8 per game, tailing off some from the ridiculous early pace he set, but his interior presence -- that verticality you read and hear so much about -- is the single most feared defensive force in today's NBA.

Even with Paul George's emergence as the best two-way player not named LeBron James in the league, David West’s interior know-how and the undeniable perimeter pressure applied by George Hill and Lance Stephenson, no reasonable discussion about the Pacers' withering team D starts without mentioning Hibbert. You saw what happened Wednesday night in the latest Indy-Miami showdown; Hibbert's foul trouble, if you want to boil what happened down to a single sentence, essentially swung the game in the Heat's favor.

Bidding to become the first Pacer to lead the league in shot-blocking, Hibbert swatted at least five shots in seven of Indiana's first 13 games, which actually might have ramped expectations up too high. I'm sure his December drop-off will alarm some, but Hibbert's interior presence goes well beyond the box score for a team that awoke Monday somehow allowing just 93.6 points per 100 possessions.

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