Oklahoma City Thunder: Report Card on Serge Ibaka

by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 19, 2014

Rebounding: A. Ibaka ranked 10th among power forwards with a career-high 8.8-rebound average this season, up from 7.7 a year ago. As an offensive rebounder, Ibaka’s 2.8 boards per game ranked him sixth. His total rebound percentage (14.9), meanwhile, tied him with Blake Griffin, according to nba.com/stats. Ibaka was dominant in November, with a 10.4-rebound average, and finished strong, pulling down 9.4 rebounds per game in April. And he was rock steady from January through March.

Shooting: B. A little bit of a mixed bag here. Ibaka again flaunted an improved 3-point shot, which was an encouraging development. He made a career-high 23 3-pointers this season while shooting 38.3 percent from that distance. Oddly enough, though, he wasn’t great from the corners, where he shot 34.6 percent. That’s where most of his 3-point tries will come, and if he’s going to take them he’ll need to convert at a higher rate. The bigger issue is Ibaka’s patented mid-range jumper tailed off a smidge. He shot 44.9 percent between 15 and 19 feet, down from 51.5 percent last season, according to nba.com/stats. It was Ibaka’s lowest connection rate from that range since the 2010-11 season.

Shot-blocking: A. Here’s how great Ibaka’s been here. His shot-blocking average dipped for the second straight season and he still has led the league in total blocks for four years running. Ibaka averaged 2.7 blocks this year, second to only Anthony Davis (2.82). Ibaka didn’t just block shots, he also altered them. He didn’t just alter shots, he also discouraged opponents from taking them. His timing and impact as a shot-blocking presence continues to amaze.

Post defense: B. The numbers say Ibaka was only marginally worse as a man defender in the post from last year to this season. In fact, the data from the last three seasons is so close that it suggests Ibaka is establishing consistency and revealing who he is as a post defender. Ibaka yielded 42.3 percent shooting on post-ups, slightly up from the 40.2 percent he yielded last year and the 40.7 percent shooting the year before in those instances, according to Synergy Sports. Where Ibaka showed great growth, though, is in his pick-and-roll defense. He allowed 0.8 points per possession and just 37.7 percent shooting, both career bests, to his man in the pick and roll. Quietly, Ibaka is starting to stand out defensively for more than just his shot-blocking.


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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