In this past seasons NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, for whatever reason, there were times where Ibaka seemed hesitant to take open shots despite being the recipient of opportunities created within the flow of the offense.
But when Ibaka missed his first three outside jumpers last night, he did what quality shooters do: He kept shooting. Following his 0-3 start, Ibaka converted 4-of-7 outside opportunities, including a rare, contested 3-pointer from the right corner.
At the 9:12 mark in the 4th quarter (1:30 in the video above) Ibaka made an excellent read, which helps to illustrate how far he has come as a player since he arrived in the states in 2008. After receiving a pass from Eric Maynor and realizing that Taj Gibson was waiting to challenge his jump shot – as a result of knocking them down in the first half – Ibaka used a quick pump-fake to take Gibson off his feet, at which time Ibaka took a dribble towards the hoop and finished an uncontested dunk, as a result of Carlos Boozer being out of position.
Ibaka also did his usual dirty work around the rim on both ends; he finished with 4 offensive rebounds and 4 blocks. His defensive presence around the rim will never be questioned and as his positioning, awareness and communication skills catch up to his ability to swat shots, Ibaka’s defensive presence will only become more impressive.
It’s easy to fall in love with a player as talented and quirky as James Harden and his beard were; he embodied the Thunder tradition and what they were all about… But when you have a 23-year old Congolese native who speaks five (yes, five) languages, who has proven that he’s clearly a quick learner, who is still beginning to scratch the surface of his limitless potential as a forward in the NBA, it should help to ease the pain for Thunder management and fans, alike.
Some news and nuggets from around the league:
- A few tweets regarding the somewhat high profile Lakers coaching situation:
- Would Mike D’Antoni be a good fit for the Lakers? SI’s Ian Thomsen believes he would be a ‘great’ fit: “