By almost every metric, Serge Ibaka is having his best season as a pro.
Already well-known as the defensive anchor for one of the league's best teams, Ibaka has upped his averages to a career-high 14.9 points and 9.1 rebounds, becoming an increasingly more productive offensive force.
He has the look of an All-Star, with the numbers to back it up. But will the 24-year-old finally receive his first bid to the league's showcase game?
“He's certainly in the discussion,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.
Problem is, it's a convoluted conversation. And despite his clear development, Ibaka likely remains on the outside looking in.
Considering all the point guard injuries this season, the power forward might be the NBA's most stacked position. And that's particularly true in the Western Conference.
With the league now grouping all frontcourt players together on the ballot, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin currently hold the three starting spots.
Then, beyond that, there are likely only two to four more reserve slots left for power forwards.
Kevin Love (averaging 25.1 points, 13.0 rebounds) and LaMarcus Aldridge (averaging 24.1 points, 11.3 rebounds) are locks. And both Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki, who are having solid seasons, will garner some legacy votes.
So there Ibaka sits, in that talented but unlucky next tier, joined by the emerging Anthony Davis, the underrated David Lee and the productive Zach Randolph.
“There's so many good All-Star players in this league,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “And there's only 12 (spots) in each conference.”
And therein lies the issue for Ibaka. Because of his relative secondary status on the Thunder, behind Durant and Russell Westbrook, his candidacy takes a minor hit.
And because of the limited spots and power forward gridlock ahead of him, it looks like an impossible road to navigate.
Ibaka is playing like an All-Star. But he might have to wait at least one more season to call himself one.