Kevin Durant is the superstar player for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has won back-to-back scoring titles and is right behind Kobe Bryant heading into the final stretch of the NBA season. Russell Westbrook is the point guard and the man that runs the offense. With his million dollar smile, he remains one of the main faces of the Thunder.
However, Serge Ibaka is quickly growing in stature and becoming just as big a star as his two more popular teammates. While Durant and Westbrook score most of the points in this offense, Ibaka is the man that makes sure opposing teams can't keep up. Forget about big Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka is the defensive superstar on the Thunder team.
I've always liked to say that if Durant and Westbrook are Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen then Ibaka is Dennis Rodman, without the personality defects.
Ibaka is the best shot blocker in the NBA and might be one of the best shot blockers in the history of the sport. He is averaging 3.63 blocks a game this year and will repeat as the NBA blocks leader for the second year in a row. He wrapped it up a long time ago because the second place blocker, JaVale McGee, only has 2.33 a game. He also has three games this season with double-digit blocks.
If that was all he could do, that would be fine, but it isn't. His rebound average has climbed steadily and he now sits at 7.6 per game, 0.3 behind Thunder leader Durant. He also averages 8.9 points a game, fourth best for the Thunder after Durant, Westbrook and sixth-man extraordinaire James Harden.
Kendrick Perkins proclaimed that Ibaka could be the best power forward in the NBA before things are done. With names like Kevin Love and Blake Griffin, I don't see that happening, but he is easily Top 5 right now. Ibaka will not get a chance to do everything he is capable of because of the talent surrounding him but he is one of the most important pieces in the Thunder puzzle.
If Oklahoma City wins their first NBA title this year, Durant and Westbrook will share the acclaim with the Serge-protector.
Author Shawn S. Lealos has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma (2000) and is an avid sports fan that has lived in Oklahoma for over 40 years. He used to religiously follow the Dallas Mavericks until Oklahoma City found a team to call their own.
Other articles by Shawn S. Lealos:
- Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. Los Angeles Clippers - 04.16.12: A Fan's Preview
- Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs Battle for No. 1 Seed: A Fan's Take
- Five Areas the Oklahoma City Thunder Must Improve for NBA Playoffs: A Fan's Take
- Oklahoma City Thunder Vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: A Fan's Preview
- Jalen Rose Exposes Skip Bayless After Oklahoma City Thunder Criticism: A Fan's Take
- Sports & Recreation
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Kevin Durant
- Serge Ibaka
- Russell Westbrook
- Oklahoma City