Serge Ibaka is on a one-year rental with the Orlando Magic. He will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2017 and could be targeted by the Los Angeles Lakers.
New Lakers head coach Luke Walton has a bevy of young, promising talent to work with. However, the team is still years removed from developing into a potential title contender. The addition of Ibaka will undoubtedly speed up the process.
Throughout NBA history, the Lakers have predicated their success on having a dominant big man in the low block. Behemoths like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol come to mind.
Ibaka is by no stretch of the imagination in the same class as those basketball greats, but he does have the necessary skills to bolster the Lakers offense. At this stage of their careers, Ibaka is a significant upgrade over Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Timofey Mozgov.
Hoops Habit described Ibaka as a gritty and versatile power forward. He started out as an elite rim protector for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He then morphed into a two-way player who can rebound and block shots, as well as score from the perimeter and from beyond the arc.
In his last season with the Thunder, he averaged 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. He shot a decent 47.9 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from behind the three-point line.
Ibaka is poised to have a breakout year next season, one that might fetch him a lucrative contract extension in 2017. He is anxious to step out of the shadow of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. In an interview with Complex Sports, he expressed his excitement about his first year with the Magic.
“It feels great, man,” said the Congolese-Spanish cager. “In my mind, this almost feels like my first rookie year. I’m fresh and sometimes change is just good for you. I’m excited, been working out really hard for the upcoming season.”