Serge Ibaka continues to improve, gain confidence in second season

Thunder forward Serge Ibaka is averaging 11.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game as a member of Oklahoma City's starting five.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: November 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm •  Published: November 21, 2010

Serge Ibaka explained his second-year surge with one word.

Confidence.

“It's very important,” Ibaka said.

In just 86 career games, Ibaka has transformed himself from a mystery draft pick to a spot starter for the Oklahoma City Thunder. With customary starting power forward Jeff Green having missed seven games this season with a nagging left ankle injury, Ibaka has steadied the frontcourt with his improved play.

The Thunder is 6-1 with Ibaka in the starting lineup entering tonight's game against Minnesota. Ibaka has averaged 11.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.4 blocked shots and one steal in 32 minutes per game as a member of the first five.

“Serge works hard,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Every minute he's on the floor he's going to give his best. But like all of our guys, it's not going to always look great.”

Ibaka's ups and downs were visible over the past week.

At Utah last Monday, Ibaka was a key contributor in the Thunder's 115-108 win. He scored a career-high 22 points on nine of 13 shooting while pulling down 11 rebounds. Ibaka ended the week, however, with a foul-plagued 20 minutes at Milwaukee on Saturday. He scored four points with only six rebounds and was benched four minutes into the game for what appeared to be a missed assignment that led to a Bucks offensive rebound.

But a certain amount of inconsistency is to be expected by Ibaka, who just turned 21 on Sept. 18 and is still adjusting to the NBA.

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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Thunder vs. Timberwolves

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Oklahoma City Arena

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

* The Thunder has won four straight games and six of its past seven.

* Minnesota is 1-7 on the road and has allowed an NBA-worst 109.9 points per game.

* Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Jeff Green are both questionable for tonight's game because of sprained left ankles.

PROJECTED STARTERS

THUNDER (9-4)

Pos., Player, Ht., Pts., Reb., Ast

G, Russell Westbrook, 6-3, 23.5, 5.2, 7.8

G, Thabo Sefolosha, 6-7, 5.3, 4.3, 1.5

F, Kevin Durant, 6-9, 28.0, 6.4, 2.6

F, Serge Ibaka, 6-9, 11.5, 7.7, 0.2

C, Nenad Krstic, 7-0, 7.5, 5.1, 0.3

WOLVES (4-10)

Pos., Player, Ht., Pts., Reb., Ast

G, Sebastian Telfair, 6-0, 9.7, 1.5, 4.4

G, Wesley Johnson, 6-7, 9.6, 3.4, 2.3

F, Michael Beasley, 6-10, 22.4, 5.7, 1.7

F, Kevin Love, 6-10, 17.6, 13.8, 1.8

C, Darko Milicic, 7-0, 7.3, 6.2, 1.9

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