The 2013 NBA All-Star reserves were announced last night and unsurprisingly Russell Westbrook will join Kevin Durant as the only two Oklahoma City Thunder players to make the team.
A third Thunder player had a very good chance of making the team as well and didn’t. Serge Ibaka is in the running for the Most Improved Player Award this season averaging 14.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game this season.
TNT ran a poll last night of which players from the Western Conference were the biggest snubs and Ibaka received the second most votes behind only Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.
But was Ibaka really an All-Star snub this year?
Probably not. Ibaka has definitely made great strides this season but he’s still not quite on that All-Star level yet. Especially in the Western Conference, it’s hard to call Ibaka an All-Star with so many other great big men around.
Ibaka needs to be closer to a 16 and 10 guy to become an All-Star. He was actually pretty close to that and averaging that much for a stretch not too long ago this season but then went through a dry stretch and his numbers dropped a little.
It’s not all about offense with Ibaka either. He is one of the premiere shot blockers in the league but did see his blocks per game dip a little this season from last. If he were blocking around four shots per game this season, the coaches would have given Ibaka another look.
Ibaka isn’t exactly thought of as a defensive anchor yet either. He still gets lost from time to time defending the pick-and-roll and bites on far too many shot fakes. Once he becomes more disciplined on defense, he will gain more respect from the coaches and come closer to that All-Star level.
Ibaka will probably become an All-Star at some point in his career. Right now, there isn’t an overwhelming feeling that he will be a perennial All-Star but he should have a handful of seasons in which he makes the team.