It’s hard to pinpoint precisely when the NBA entered the space-and-pace era. Like all epochs, it was a gradual shift, until one day we woke up and suddenly every team around the league was hoisting three-pointers at a historic clip and traversing the court at a faster pace than ever before.
There are certain players who are clearly emblematic of the sea change, such as Steph Curry and James Harden. But this era is also notable for the players it rendered obsolete. One of the biggest casualties of that paradigm shift was Roy Hibbert, the former Pacers All-Star who went from celebrated defensive wunderkind to out of the league over the span of just a couple of seasons.
At 7’2, Hibbert was a prototypical center of a bygone era. He had a limited but passable post game and focused all of his effort on patrolling the paint. He’s the genesis of the term “verticality,” which was the only way we knew how to describe his uncanny ability to protect the rim without fouling his opponents.