Thunder Want Serge Ibaka Scoring More
The biggest challenge facing Serge Ibaka this season might be perception.
He’s here and James Harden is not.
And no matter how dominant the league’s three-time reigning shot blocking leader is, there might be nothing he can do to reject attitudes that have stemmed from that fact.
Because for more than a year, the league-wide narrative has led many to believe the Thunder “chose” Ibaka over Harden. Had Oklahoma City re-signed Harden first instead of Ibaka, the Thunder’s star-studded trio still would be intact, or so goes the narrative.
Now, no matter what type of season Ibaka strings together it doesn’t seem likely to silence the critics so long as Harden continues on his path of perennial All-Star stardom down in Houston.
That can’t stop Ibaka from trying.
Regardless of the truth — the Thunder tried to retain both by offering each of them new deals only to see Ibaka and not Harden accept — Oklahoma City needs Ibaka to be better than ever.
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.