has 17 siblings. His grandmother survived civil unrest in the Congo in the 1990s while living in a house with no electricity and no running water. He learned basketball playing on outdoor courts, forced to wear shoes with cardboard inserts to cover the holes in the soles.
But his raw athletic ability is more extraordinary than his upbringing.
Ibaka has a 46-inch vertical, four inches higher than the next best of this year's draftees, and a 7-foot-4 inch wingspan. Those traits make him a naturally gifted rebounder and shot-blocker. He averaged 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in 26 games this season in the Spanish LEB Gold league. He led the league in blocked shots with 3.1 per game.
So what type of player can we expect once Ibaka makes his NBA debut?
"I think a lot of that will be determined by how he develops,” Presti said, "and where he is in the future based on the work that he puts in and the work we put in with him. That's the same that can be said for all of our guys. We want guys that will come in every day and do their jobs, work for the team, work for themselves and then after that we see where they are and how they fit with us.”
Joe Abunassar, an 11-year Las Vegas-based trainer to NBA players who has trained Ibaka each of the past two summers, said Ibaka's not far from tapping into his potential and turning his promise into production.
"He shows signs at times that he can really do some amazing things out there,” Abunassar said. "He's a good shooter. He's not just an athletic guy. He just needs to get stronger. Really with Serge, it's just playing the game. He hasn't played the game that long — and just understanding situations and where to be and those types of things.
"But I don't think he's as far away as people think. If he continues to develop at the rate he's developing, he'll have a chance to be a very, very good player.”