Skip to content

Thunder may be looking for Serge Ibaka to emerge as team’s third scoring option

Oct 10, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Serge Ibaka, Kevin Durant AP

It’s easy to argue that the Thunder got worse this summer by losing Kevin Martin to the Timberwolves in free agency, and getting nothing in return to replace his offensive production in the lineup.

For a slide to be avoided, Kevin Durant is going to have to raise his game to an even higher level, especially during the first couple of months of the season while Russell Westbrook is recovering from a second knee surgery.

Young guys like Reggie Jackson will have to continue to develop as well, but the team is hoping to see a leap from its best defensive player to help bridge the gap on the other end of the floor.

From Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

Entering his fifth season, the first of his contentious four-year, $49 million extension, Ibaka must now take on the role of third scoring option. More than that, it’s time he also blossoms into the Thunder’s best post defender. Oklahoma City’s championship hopes might depend on it.

Harden is long gone, and Kevin Martin walked this summer. That leaves Ibaka as one of the few remaining players the Thunder can count on to complement Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Everyone else outside of Reggie Jackson is either a defensive specialist or a big fat question mark.

“He has to continue to have an impact on the game,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Ibaka.

The thing is, Ibaka wasn’t that far off statistically from being that third option last season.

The drop off from Durant and Westbrook to Martin was substantial, but Martin’s 14 points per game average was followed closely by Ibaka’s 13.2, and Serge played more minutes to get there.

It’s pointed out in the article that Ibaka’s per-36 numbers approach 16 points and 10 rebounds per game, which would be reasonable for him to achieve if he’s given an expanded role this season. But that’s only a marginal improvement from last year’s averages, and it won’t be enough to replace Martin’s production, hot-and-cold as it may have been.

For Oklahoma City to play deep into the postseason, they’ll need Durant and Westbrook to be greater than usual, they’ll need Ibaka to improve by averaging the numbers projected or beyond, and they’ll need some of the young guys to develop and contribute ahead of schedule.

It seems like an awful lot to ask.

Latest Posts
  1. LeBron James on Kyrie Irving: “I believe Kyrie can be the best point guard in the league.”

    Sep 17, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - Day Fourteen Getty Images

    Kyrie is going to have to adjust to a different role on the Cavs, but if he does watch out.

  2. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Boston Celtics

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Rajon Rondo Rajon Rondo

    Rajon Rondo looms over everything – on and off the court

  3. Tyler Zeller looking to jumpstart career, start in Boston this season

    Sep 17, 2014, 9:01 AM EDT

    Tyler Zeller Cavaliers AP

    He may not start but he will get plenty of run this season.

  4. Atlanta mayor says he has spoken to six potential buyers of Hawks

    Sep 17, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Image (1) hawks_logo-thumb-250x134-11979-thumb-250x134-11981.gif for post 4050

    Dominique Wilkins is one, but you know the hedge fund guys are in, too.

  5. Dwight Howard’s drivers’ license in Florida suspended, he racked up 10 red light violations in Orlando

    Sep 17, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    He has 10 citations for running red lights. Impressive, I don’t care how many sports cars you own.

  6. And-1 Links: League Pass alert — Ben McLemore is the new Pizza Guy

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:34 PM EDT

    Isaiah Thomas pizza guy

    Nick Young’s girlfriend Iggy Azalea is better at trick shots than you.

  7. Report: Dirk Nowitzki to play in EuroBasket 2015, which is 2016 Olympics qualifier

    Sep 16, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki Getty Images

    Germany qualifying for the Olympics, even with Nowitzki, is an uphill battle.

  8. Tim Duncan to appear in “The Punisher” comic book

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    Tim Duncan Punisher

    Guaranteed Duncan likes this better than another trip to the All-Star Game.

  9. Bulls officially sign E’Twaun Moore, he’s likely to stick with team

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT

    Mason Plumlee, E'Twaun Moore Mason Plumlee, E'Twaun Moore

    Half his salary the first year is guaranteed, a sign he is expected to make the final roster.

  10. Report: Glenn Robinson III signs guaranteed deal with Timberwolves

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Zach LaVine and Glen Robinson III of the Minnesota Timberwolves Portraits

    The guaranteed deal is huge but the Wolves are deep at the three. He’ll struggle to get minutes.

  11. Kings retiring Peja Stojakovic’s number

    Sep 16, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT

    Peja Stojakovic Peja Stojakovic

    Stojakovic’s 3-point bombing made Sacramento better for quite some time

  12. Andrei Kirilenko wants Lionel Hollins to play him more than Jason Kidd did

    Sep 16, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

    Andrei Kirilenko Andrei Kirilenko

    Kirilenko played by far career-low 19 minutes per game last season

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3281)
  2. L. James (2577)
  3. D. Ferry (2536)
  4. K. Irving (2400)
  5. J. Valanciunas (2343)
  1. K. Bryant (2244)
  2. P. George (2063)
  3. N. Batum (1784)
  4. R. Gay (1747)
  5. C. Anthony (1699)