This may seem like a silly question, but after thinking about it I realized that it is much closer than expected. Both players have been playing very well in very small sample sizes, though Hickson has proven more from his Cleveland days, Lebron or no.
J.J. Hickson has been doing exceptionally well recently, especially when filling for Aldridge. After all, he out Griffin'd Blake in the Clippers game en route to 29 points on 13-19 shooting as well as 13 rebounds. He has definitely stepped up when needed most. He brings energy and toughness that helps make up for the hole that Wallace left when traded. It can't be ignored that he is in a contract year however. We still are not sure what happened during his stint with the Kings when his play dive-bombed. Personally, I am slightly worried that he let's his emotions affect his game ,ala Felton, to the point that his play may be somewhat unstable.
Luke Babbitt has vastly improved his play recently. He has certainly improved statistically, but the biggest difference is his confidence on the court. His shot is finally falling, he's showing toughness on the defensive end in the post and with rebounding. He is capable of creating a mismatch at both the 3 and the 4, either in the post or on the perimeter. It may be important to note that his future play on defense and hustle may depend on his shot going down. Hickson has a decent mid-range, but Babbitt would fit better next to either Aldridge or an offensively challenged Center. An interesting number per Hoopsdata, Babbitt has actually has a better DRR% of 27.4 to Hickson's 19.7. While what he's shown is under an extremely small sample size, his shooting and confidence cannot be denied.
Another important number would be Hickson's (Por) PER of 24.5 compared to Babbitt's 10. Then again, Hickson's Sac PER was 10 as well. Defensively, neither particularly stand out. Hickson has the athleticism to be provide weakside blocks, but still only .5 bpg compared to Babbitt's .1.
Obviously with such a small sample size, stats are likely heavily skewed so this will certainly be a very subjective argument. Not to mention that we are essentially comparing Hickson's now vs. Babbitts "potential". But, I thought this would be interesting considering it seems much closer than one would expect. What do you guys think?
FYI, I only have 2 options for the poll because this is not a debate who the back-up 4 should be out of all available, but rather which of the two you prefer.