Serge Ibaka is an anomaly.
Obviously, it is not the norm to be from a family of 18 siblings, who grew up during the largest civil war in modern African history; or to be raised in a house with no electricity or running water; or to learn basketball on outdoor courts while wearing shoes with cardboard inserts to cover holes in the soles.
Nor is it normal for someone 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds to possess such impressive athleticism, much of which remains untapped at age 21.
Also rare is that Ibaka still was available when the Oklahoma City Thunder selected 24th in the 2008 NBA Draft.
The Thunder once again possesses the No. 24 pick in next week's draft, but to anticipate getting another player of Ibaka's ilk would be ludicrous.
As a whole, the 24th pick rarely pans out well. In fact, the overall success rate of late first-round picks is underwhelming.
In the past decade, roughly 30 percent of players drafted outside the Top 10 of the first round already are out of the league.
Since the 2000 draft, 61 of 204 players (29.9 percent) selected between Nos. 10-30 no longer are in the NBA.
Of players drafted between Nos. 20-30 in the last decade, 61.1 percent were traded before their fourth season; 54.4 percent averaged less than 1,500 minutes (18.3 per game); 20.2 percent started 70 games during one of their first four seasons; and 6.7 percent made an All-Star team.
A handful of solid players have been taken with the 24th pick in the first round. Brian Shaw, Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell, Derek Fisher and Andrei Kirilenko come to mind.
In its three seasons of existence, OKC already is quite familiar with players drafted at the No. 24 spot, having acquired Ibaka and two centers in Nenad Krstic (via free agency) and Byron Mullens (via Dallas).
There is no certainty the Thunder will retain the No. 24 pick next week, possibly trading it for a future draft choice since this year's pool is widely considered the weakest since the 2000 draft – 1. Kenyon Martin; 2. Stromile Swift; 3. Darius Miles; 4. Marcus Fizer; 5. Mike Miller; 6. DerMarr Johnson; 7. Chris Mihm; et al.
Remember, the team that originally owns the No. 24 pick had the league's seventh-best record the previous season and often doesn't have much room on its roster, unlike weaker teams.
Such is the scenario next week for the Thunder, which has 13 of its 15 players signed at least through the 2011-12 season.
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Players taken between Nos. 20-30 in the NBA Draft the last 10 years:
- 61.1 percent (44 of 72) were traded before their fourth season (22 have yet to play their fourth season; 10 never got to the league).
- 54.4 percent played less than 1,500 minutes (18.3 per game).
- 20.2 percent started 70 games during one of their first four seasons.
- 6.7 percent (seven of 104) have made an All-Star team.
- 29.8 percent (31 of 104) no longer are in the NBA.
THE NUMBER 24
Players selected No. 24 in the NBA Draft since 1988, when it became a first-round pick:
2010: F Damion James (Texas) – Atlanta
2009: C Byron Mullens (Ohio State) – Dallas
2008: F Serge Ibaka (Rep. of Congo) – Thunder
2007: G Rudy Fernandez (Spain) – Phoenix
2006: G Kyle Lowry (Villanova) – Memphis
2005: G Luther Head (Illinois) – Houston
2004: G Delonte West (St. Joseph's) – Boston
2003: C Brian Cook (Illinois) – LA Lakers
2002: C Nenad Krstic (Serbia) – New Jersey
2001: G Raul Lopez (Spain) – Utah
2000: C Dalibor Bagaric (Croatia) – Chicago
1999: F Andrei Kirilenko (Russia) – Utah
1998: G Felipe Lopez (St. John's) – San Antonio
1997: F Rodrick Rhodes (USC) – Houston
1996: G Derek Fisher (UALR) – LA Lakers
1995: C Loren Meyer (Iowa State) – Dallas
1994: F Monty Williams (Notre Dame) – New York
1993: G Sam Cassell (Florida State) – Houston
1992: F Latrell Sprewell (Alabama) – Golden State
1991: F Rick Fox (North Carolina) – Boston
1990: C Dwayne Schintzius (Florida) – San Antonio
1989: F Anthony Cook (Arizona) – Phoenix
1988: G Brian Shaw (UCSB) – Boston
Source: Basketball Reference