Growth: A. Given more opportunity than he's ever received, Ibaka responded by averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, free-throw attempts, 3-pointers made and field-goal percentage. Following the loss of James Harden, Ibaka expanded his game to be more of a threat offensively, while also developing more discipline on the defensive end.
Versatility: B. Defensively, Ibaka began the season showing improved technique on faceup forwards like Blake Griffin and Dirk Nowitzki. By the end of the year, Ibaka was bumping and battling on the low block with the likes of Zach Randolph. At the other end, Ibaka would reveal a gorgeous baseline turnaround jumper on one possession before knocking down a 3-pointer on the next. He had his growing pains trying to master it all, but Ibaka didn't receive nearly enough credit for his versatility.
Fundamentals: B. Many laughed when Ibaka finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting a season ago. Said he lacked discipline and was too frequently out of position. Well, he must have been listening. Ibaka went to work on those areas and learned from his past mistakes. He was much sounder defensively this year, whether guarding his man, the pick-and-roll or the weak side. Most impressively, Ibaka did it without fouling. The former foul machine averaged just 3.1 fouls per 36 minutes. After averaging 5.3 fouls per 36 minutes as a rookie, this was the fourth straight season that Ibaka decreased his per-36-minute foul rate.
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