The Oklahoma City Thunder extended Serge Ibaka to a 4-year, $51 million contract earlier this summer. In doing so, they obviously are committing themselves to the big man for the long term.
Up to this point in his career, Ibaka isn’t fully accomplished offensively. He gets most of his points from offensive rebound putbacks and spot-up midrange jumpers. His back-to-the-basket game is just about nonexistent.
“I’ve been working on my back-to-the-basket game for two years,” Ibaka told The Oklahoman. “Right now my coaches and my teammates just try to give me confidence. I can’t do everything right in the first game or the first time. It’s a process. I will (get used to it). I will make some mistakes and learn after the mistakes.”
Ibaka scored from the post on just 4.8 percent of his possessions last season. He shot 44.8 percent on those shots and scored 0.79 points per possession. Almost none of those post-ups were exactly designed either.
“I feel comfortable,” Ibaka said. “Like I said, it’s the first time…where my coach is asking me to get down in the post. I know I have a lot to learn. But it’s a great opportunity for me to try to figure out what I need to do good, what I need to keep working on.”
Ibaka started and played 18 minutes in the Thunder’s last preseason game in Utah. He scored 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting and also had seven rebounds.
So far in the preseason we have seen an emphasis for the Thunder offense to come out of the post more often. Not only with Ibaka but Russell Westbrook posted up numerous times in OKC’s first preseason game vs. Houston. The same goes for Kevin Durant.
Getting offense from the post is the next evolution of this Thunder offense. They are already so good everywhere else.
And when you’re paying some $50 million over the next four years, you’d like him to do more than spot-up for jumpers so expect Ibaka to start getting more touches in the post now.