2013-2014 Thunder Player Grades: Serge Ibaka evolves

Ronald Martinez

Serge Ibaka continues to improve year after year and this year is no different. Lets dive into how he has improved and what makes him so important to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Full Name: Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka

Nickname: Air Congo, Serge Protector, Iblocka

Years in the NBA: 5

Contract Status: Signed through 2016-2017 season at $12,250 per year

Notable Factoid: Has tons of siblings and speaks a lot of languages (You know, stuff they talk bout on TV all the time when mentioning Serge)

Player History: Serge Ibaka joined the Thunder for the 2009-2010 after being drafted 24th in the 2009 draft. He immediately became a key contributor averaging 18 mpg in that first season. He has steadily increased his stats as seen below:


Season Age Tm Lg Pos G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2009-10 20 OKC NBA PF 73 0 18.1 2.8 5.1 .543 0.0 0.0 .500 2.7 5.0 .543 0.8 1.3 .630 1.9 3.5 5.4 0.1 0.3 1.3 0.9 2.7 6.3
2010-11 21 OKC NBA PF 82 44 27.0 4.1 7.5 .543 0.0 0.0 .000 4.1 7.5 .544 1.7 2.2 .750 2.6 5.0 7.6 0.3 0.4 2.4 0.9 3.3 9.9
2011-12 22 OKC NBA PF 66 66 27.2 4.0 7.4 .535 0.0 0.0 .333 4.0 7.4 .536 1.2 1.8 .661 2.9 4.6 7.5 0.4 0.5 3.7 1.2 2.7 9.1
2012-13 23 OKC NBA PF 80 80 31.1 5.6 9.7 .573 0.3 0.7 .351 5.3 9.0 .591 1.8 2.4 .749 2.8 4.9 7.7 0.5 0.4 3.0 1.6 2.7 13.2
2013-14 24 OKC NBA PF 81 81 32.9 6.5 12.1 .536 0.3 0.7 .383 6.2 11.3 .546 1.9 2.5 .784 2.8 6.0 8.8 1.0 0.5 2.7 1.5 2.9 15.1
Career NBA 382 271 27.4 4.6 8.5 .547 0.1 0.3 .366 4.5 8.1 .554 1.5 2.1 .731 2.6 4.8 7.4 0.5 0.4 2.6 1.2 2.8 10.9
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/13/2014.

He is still a work in progress, which is exciting because he is a fantastic player.

Pre-Season Expectations: Lets set the scence: Russell Westbrook is recovering from offseason surgery and was expected to miss the first 4-6 weeks of the season. (although we all know how that ended up, and then disappointed us again later..... that was weird wasn't it?) Because of these circumstances I had the following expectations for Serge:

1. Score more

2. Rebound better

3. Continue to defend the paint (with less jumping on pump fakes)

4. Extend scoring range to the 3 point line

5. Show more offensive awareness (measured largely through assists and TO)

Regular Season Grade: A-

Let's go through the check list from above.

1. Score more.... CHECK! Serge scored in double figures in 70 out of the 81 games he played in. That is up 9 from last year, so not a drastic change, but thats 86% of his games! He has shown steady growth in this area since entering the league. He took most of is shots from 0-3 feet (33% of his shots) or from about 16 feet (31% of his shots). He shoots very well from both spots 0-3 feet 73% and  from 16 feet 46%. So this guy is nearly automatic from his two favorite spots on the floor. This all looks great, but Serge is still very reliant on his team mates when it comes to the offensive end. He was assisted on nearly 80% of his shot attempts. (Compared to guys like Kevin Durant 45%, and Russell Westbrook 30%) So as you can see Serge's shot attempts come from actually running plays or drive and kicks (which is weird because I thought OKC didn't run any plays). He also benefitted greatly from the improvement of Reggie Jackson.

2. Rebound better.... CHECK! Looking at the raw stats Serge has only increased his rebounding by 1.1 rebounds per game, which doesn't seem to impressive. If I told you he reached double digit rebounds 33 times this season which is 17 more double digit rebounding games then last season, would that impress you? It should. He is improved. He also was a beneficiary of small ball. He played center 19% of the time he was on the court, up from about 9% last season. Not totally significant, but it can also explain why Serge showed some improvement in this area.

3. Continue to defend the paint.... CHECK! I provided a table below comparing Serge to some of the best defensive big men in the league. There is a lot to sort through here, but lets focus on 3 key stats: BLK%, DRtg, and DWS

Rk Player Season Age G MP PER TS% eFG% FTr 3PAr ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg OWS DWS WS WS/48
1 Tyson Chandler 2013-14 31 55 1662 16.4 .615 .593 .481 .003 10.9 27.0 18.7 5.5 1.2 3.4 15.4 12.9 120 106 3.1 1.9 4.9 .143
2 Anthony Davis 2013-14 20 67 2358 26.5 .582 .520 .438 .009 10.0 23.3 16.6 8.0 2.0 6.7 8.3 25.2 119 104 7.2 3.2 10.4 .212
3 Tim Duncan 2013-14 37 74 2158 21.3 .535 .490 .349 .006 8.6 28.3 18.8 16.0 1.0 4.6 13.2 25.2 106 98 2.8 4.6 7.4 .164
4 Roy Hibbert 2013-14 27 81 2409 13.5 .499 .440 .357 .007 9.9 15.0 12.5 6.2 0.6 5.7 14.5 19.4 100 98 0.5 5.0 5.4 .108
5 Serge Ibaka 2013-14 24 81 2666 19.6 .576 .548 .203 .061 10.0 19.6 15.0 5.2 0.7 6.7 10.3 19.8 115 102 5.2 4.4 9.6 .173
6 Joakim Noah 2013-14 28 80 2820 20.0 .531 .475 .419 .003 11.6 24.5 18.2 26.4 1.9 3.3 17.0 18.7 111 96 4.5 6.6 11.2 .190
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/13/2014.

BLK% - Ibaka ranks at the top along with Anthony Davis in this category. This stat reflects the percentage of blocks on 2 point field goals that are blocked by Ibaka. 6.7% may not seem high, but when you think about the amount of shots not only blocked, but altered by Ibaka, this is a lot.

DRtg - In defensive rating Ibaka ranks in the middle of this pack, at 102. This means that per 100 possession when Ibaka is on the floor OKC allows 102 points. Joakim Noah touts an impressive 96, while Roy Hibbert and Tim Duncan post a 98. So Ibaka isn't the elite class as he is in block percentage, but this is also very much a team stat as well.

DWS - Serge ranks fourth in this group in defensive win shares (again behind Noah, HIbbert, and Duncan) with a 4.4. Defensive win shares are estimated wins contributed by a player due to his defense. DPOY Joakim Noah sticks out again in this category head and shoulders above the rest with a 6.6, Hibbert with a 5, and Duncan barely above Ibaka with a 4.6. Ibaka's defense lead to 4.4 more wins for OKC just because of his defense. That is significant.

3 takeaways from these stats:

  • Ibaka without a doubt anchors the Thunder defense and allows chaos to ensue on theperimeter because whatever they miss he will clean up.
  • Defensive stats have a lot to do with team defense and coaching.
  • Defensive stats are a work in progress.

Note: Ibaka was named to the All Defensive First Team.

4. Extend scoring range to the 3 point line..... Nope. Although it appears Ibaka has improved his range going from 35% to 38% from 3, other raw numbers tell a different story. In 2012-2013 he went 20/57 and in 2013-2014 he went 23/60. So he took and made 3 more 3 point shots than last season, not much of an improvement. FUN FACT! Of those 60 3 pointers taken, none of them were full/half court heaves.

5. Show more offensive awareness (measured largely through assists and TO)... CHECK! His raw assist numbers show a dramatic improvement from 43 in 2012-2013 to 85 2013-1014. Thats a big jump and its obvious he made a concerted effort to find his teammates for scores this season. He did about the same in turnovers going from 125 in 2012-2013 to 123 in 2013-2014. Most of his turnovers came from lost balls and bad passes, but I still say there was a drastic improvement in this area, just needs to cut down on some of the turnovers.

Post Season Grade: C

This might sound harsh, but going by our key he met my expectations with what he was given. His numbers were down across the board as you can see below:


Season Age Tm Lg Pos G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2009-10 20 OKC NBA PF 6 0 25.5 3.3 5.8 .571 0.0 0.0 3.3 5.8 .571 1.2 1.7 .700 2.2 4.3 6.5 0.3 0.3 2.0 1.0 3.2 7.8
2010-11 21 OKC NBA PF 17 17 28.8 3.9 8.5 .462 0.0 0.1 .000 3.9 8.5 .465 1.9 2.4 .825 2.8 4.5 7.3 0.2 0.2 3.1 1.2 3.8 9.8
2011-12 22 OKC NBA PF 20 20 28.5 4.2 8.0 .528 0.1 0.2 .250 4.2 7.8 .535 1.3 1.8 .722 2.4 3.4 5.8 0.6 0.6 3.0 0.6 2.9 9.8
2012-13 23 OKC NBA PF 11 11 33.3 5.4 12.3 .437 0.4 0.8 .444 5.0 11.5 .437 1.7 2.2 .792 3.5 4.8 8.4 0.7 0.0 3.0 0.6 3.5 12.8
2013-14 24 OKC NBA PF 17 17 34.2 5.1 8.6 .592 0.3 0.8 .385 4.8 7.9 .612 1.5 2.0 .765 1.8 5.0 6.8 0.7 0.6 2.5 1.2 3.2 12.1
Career NBA 71 65 30.4 4.5 8.7 .510 0.1 0.4 .370 4.3 8.4 .517 1.6 2.0 .771 2.5 4.4 6.8 0.5 0.4 2.8 0.9 3.3 10.6
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/13/2014.

His numbers are down for sure, but the main stat I see that contributed to this are his field goal attempts. This is not necessarily his fault. I came away from many games saying, "Serge needs more shots" and I was not alone. I wish I could say he exceeded my expectations, but I also am not sure he had the opportunity to do so. We saw the true value of Serge Ibaka after he went down in game 6 of the Clippers series. The Thunder were set to play the Spurs, and fans still had high hopes despite Ibaka being declared out for the playoffs. Then the Thunder lost two games by a total of 52 points... they needed Serge and he wasn't coming back. Then this happened:


Ibaka proved his worth and more in games 3 and 4, but as we saw in games 5 and 6 it was too little too late. This team had major flaws in their role players and need to reload. Despite all that there is one thing for sure; OKC has it's third star in Ibaka and he is only getting better.

Most Memorable Moments:




Player Grades Explained:

A: Far exceeded expectations

B: Exceeded expectations

C: Met expectations

D: Did not meet expectations

F: Fell far short of expectations

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