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David Aldridge Asks: Harden or Ibaka?

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Apr 9, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA;  Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket around Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis (11) during the second quarter at the Bradley Center.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Apr 9, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket around Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis (11) during the second quarter at the Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

David Aldridge offered up his usual treasure trove of inside-NBA content this week, and one of the topics he hit on was one that the Thunder are all too familiar with.

Harden or Ibaka: Who You Got? | NBA.com

James Harden is about to be this year's winner of the 6th man award. Serge Ibaka is a young and super athletic big man who has posted three 10 block games this season alone. Neither one is what we come to know as a "super star," but both have All-Star level potential and can help swing the balance of power in the NBA.

Since OKC gave both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook big money these past two seasons, the challenge next year is going to be how the Thunder can find a way to keep both Harden and Ibaka on the team. Both Harden and Ibaka were drafted in the same season, so they can become unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2013 season. Certainly one or both could choose to take less than their market value, but Aldridge decides to play devil's advocate. He surveyed 24 of the 29 other GM's to get a sense of how they would go.

The results:

Seven votes for James Harden
Some reasons:
  • Versatility
  • Scoring ability
  • Top scoring facilitator
  • One of the top 3-4 small forwards (huh?) in the game

Six votes for Serge Ibaka

Some reasons:

  • Harder to replace a big man
  • Losing Ibaka on defense would hurt the team more than losing Harden on offense
  • He is the anchor of the Thunder defense
  • Harder to replace a starting big man than a great bench player

Six could not decide

In other words, six GM's are probably not adept enough to ever generate this kind of 'dilemma.'

One East GM

Keep both and get rid of Kendrick Perkins. Oof.