Welcome to Toronto Serge Ibaka. An elite power forward that fills a gap that the Raptors have had for years. It allows Patrick Patterson to move back to the bench and be the key role player on the second unit. Was it a good move for the Raptors though?
The Raptors lost Terrence Ross and the lower pick of their two first round picks in the upcoming draft in this trade. Ross has a good skillset and seemed to finally be ready to take it to the next level this season. However, the move now opens an opportunity for Norman Powell to step in. Norman when given the opportunity has shown he has what it takes to be a solid player in this league and certainly has upside.
The biggest negative I see in this trade is the fact that Serge Ibaka is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and there is a distinct possibility that the Raptors lose Ibaka for nothing. Orlando gave up their franchise player in Victor Oladipo and more for Ibaka in the offseason so we are certainly giving up less than what Orlando gave up just a few months ago to get him. So although the price may seem high for a possible short term rental, that is the price you pay for an elite player in this league even if it is just a rental.
The second negative or thing that scares me a bit is the regular rumour I hear that Ibaka is actually older than he is. In 2011, the Timberwolves drafted a player named Tanguy Ngombo who had a listed age of 21. They later found out that he was actually 26. Ibaka is listed at 27 years old now. However, when you look at his stats it really doesn’t seem to match his age. 27 years old is typically the prime year for athletic basketball players but if you look at Ibaka’s stats you can see a decline every year for the last number of years in some key stat categories.
It is rare for an NBA player to peak at 22-23 years old.
Despite my minor concern of his age, I am very happy with the move. It greatly improves the Raptors starting five unit and adds a lot of depth to our front court. I’ve been saying for a long time that the Raptors biggest need is better interior D so Ibaka gives us just what I’ve been asking for. He also spreads the floor shooting an amazing 38.8 percent 3-point field-goal percentage. Ibaka can also play the 5 with a guy like Patterson or Carroll giving us an incredible small-ball lineup.
Let’s sit back and enjoy the rest of the season because come playoff time, it is going to be intense.