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Why Serge Ibaka matters more than James Harden Published: May 27, 2014 contributor Bethlehem Shoals does a good job of summing up why Thunder defensive stopper Serge Ibaka has become James Harden ... and matters more to OKC than the Thunder's former shooting guard.

Shoals points out that Ibaka means more to the Thunder than just his offense - Ibaka brings it all together and is the jolt the Thunder needs.

From Shoals: "But there's another part of the story, one that everyone lauding Ibaka's defensive contributions will overlook. Ibaka isn't just key to the Thunder defense. He's also, a jolt of electricity for the entire team, igniting the offense in the same way that all great turnover-creators do."

Shoals makes note of the Thunder -- the James Harden Thunder -- beating the Spurs to advance to the 2012 NBA Finals. But what if that team was the Ibaka Thunder more than we realized, asks Shoals.

"As Ibaka has matured, he hasn't just acquired a jump shot, he's integrated himself more fully into the Thunder's overall concept," Shoals said. "With that, he's come to occupy exactly the same kind of niche that Harden once did: the guy who helps things come together, who at his best helps Durant and Westbrook attain even greater heights."

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