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Oklahoma City Thunder: Roundtable discussion about Serge Ibaka

by Berry Tramel and Darnell Mayberry and Anthony Slater Published: June 19, 2014
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The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Serge Ibaka.

After watching him average career highs in scoring and rebounding this season, what are realistic statistical averages for Serge Ibaka next season?

Darnell Mayberry, Thunder beat writer: I think his scoring will stay around 15 points, but I think he can be even better as a rebounder and passer while also seeing an uptick in his shot-blocking. In addition to going into next season more comfortable, confident and experienced, Ibaka also could benefit from a slight minute increase. So I’ll say he’ll average 15.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 3.0 blocks.

Anthony Slater, Thunder beat writer: He’ll probably be right around those same 15 and nine numbers. No matter how efficient (54 percent shooter) or improved he is, fact still remains: he plays with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They’ll suck up most of the shots, and they’ll suck up a ton more rebounds than your typical small forward and point guard do. His talent is deserving of more opportunities. But it’s hard to find more on this team.

Berry Tramel, Columnist: I think Ibaka is still on the upswing. His rebounding can be even better, and his offense should keep improving. Ibaka averaged 15.1 and 8.8 last season. I think he can get into the 16s scoring and the 9s rebounding. Which is one heck of a ballplayer.

What’s the more likely achievement for Ibaka next season, All-Star or Defensive Player of the Year?

Mayberry: Defensive Player of the Year, which seems like he should be a shoo-in for an All-Star spot, right? Don’t bet on it. All-Star voting is nothing more than a popularity contest, and the West is so loaded with frontcourt players that it could be tough for Ibaka to crack that short list. But his defense already has been recognized. Ibaka has made the All-Defensive First Team three straight years and has finished in the top five in voting for Defensive Player of the Year in each season over that span. Next season could be his breakthrough year.

Slater: How about both? I think Defensive Player of the Year, at this time, is more likely. But what if Tim Duncan retires? What if Kevin Love gets shipped to Boston? What if Dirk Nowtizki finally hits a steadier decline? The West is stacked at the forward position, making it nearly impossible for Ibaka to find his way in the All-Star Game. But there are aging stars and moving parts. And Ibaka’s game has never been better, his reputation never been higher.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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