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OKC Thunder: All-Star snubs seem to motivate Serge Ibaka

The Thunder big man is having a career year, but he won't be going to New Orleans.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: February 8, 2014

Winning is said to mean something when All-Stars are selected in the NBA.

So how do you explain the best team in the best conference landing just one player in next week's gala?

That's the question many Thunder fans are left asking now that Kevin Durant will be Oklahoma City's lone representative on the Western Conference All-Star roster in New Orleans.

This year will mark the first time since 2011 that the best team at the break in a conference wasn't rewarded with multiple All-Star selections. That year, both Denver (Carmelo Anthony) and Orlando (Dwight Howard) had only one player named to the team.

Knee surgeries prevented Russell Westbrook from extending his All-Star streak to four. But a case could be made that he should have been included and replaced if he was unable to compete. Despite missing 27 games while recovering, Westbrook was playing arguably the best ball of his career when healthy. He also helped the Thunder to a 21-4 record when in the lineup.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul was selected despite appearing in only nine more games than Westbrook. And the Clippers were 22-12 with Paul in the lineup.

A similar case could be made for Serge Ibaka, who is quietly having a career year.

Ibaka has appeared in 52 of the Thunder's 53 games and is averaging career highs in points (15.3), rebounds (8.7) and assists (0.9). He's on pace to become only the 10th player in the past 10 seasons to average at least 15 points, eight rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots.

Of the 16 times that the nine previous players posted those averages, only five times did the player not make the All-Star team in that season.

But Ibaka wasn't selected by the fans as a starter. He wasn't selected by the coaches as a reserve. He wasn't selected by the league office as a replacement.

“It always gives you motivation,” Ibaka said of not being selected. “It's hard. We're in a league where there's a lot of good players. It happens, you know. … No matter what happened, All-Star or no, I will keep working hard the same way. I will keep trying to help my team the same way.”

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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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