Kevin Durant is a starter in the 2013 All-Star game once again. He will likely be joined by Russell Westbrook as a reserve. In the past, the outstanding question for one of the league's best teams was, could they get a 3rd guy into the game as well? Up to this past summer, the name of that 3rd guy was always James Harden. Well, Harden likely is going to be there, but not as a member of the Thunder. The question now becomes, does Serge Ibaka have a shot?
The case for:
Here is what Ibaka has going for him:
- Ibaka is the 3rd best player for the league's best team through half a season. By contrast, there is one team which is 7 games below .500 that is taking up two roster spots already.
- Ibaka has become a consistent scorer for the league's best offensive team. His points per game average has risen a full five points year-over-year, to 14.1 from 9.1 a year ago.
- Ibaka has become a near-automatic mid-range jump shooter, and as a result has hit the 20+ point mark on 5 different occasions, no small feat when your teammates are Durant and Westbrook.
- Ibaka is no longer a liability in catching the ball in the paint; he can now catch and finish with ease.
- Ibaka is developing a deadly corner-3 shot.
- Ibaka's defense continues to improve. He is not putting up the gaudy blocked shots statistics this season, but his on-ball defense is vastly improved. That improvement means that there are fewer defensive breakdowns and fewer needs for weak-side block attempts.
The case against:
- The Western Conference front court is loaded. After Durant, Dwight Howard, and Blake Griffin, the competition for the final few spots is fierce. Ibaka's competition includes LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol, David Lee, Nicolas Batum, Andrei Kirilenko, Zach Randolph, and Paul Millsap.
- Tim Duncan is always going to get the nod, because he should. Lee is a favorite because of the Warriors' surge, and Gasol leads his Grizzlies team on a nightly basis.
- Scott Brooks will not be coaching the team this year, since he coached it last year. Therefore, he can't put in a good word for his own guy.
- Ibaka still may be a year away from being 'very good' to 'one of the league's best.'
Ibaka is probably a long shot, but if he were to be included, he'd certainly make the game more fun. Also, Ron Swanson is definitely in Ibaka's corner.
What do you think - does Serge Ibaka have a shot at making the All-Star game?