Toronto Raptors: 30 greatest players of all-time

(Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
(Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /

26. Serge Ibaka

Another current member of the Toronto Raptors, it’s only recently that Serge Ibaka is proving his real worth to the Raptors.

Ibaka was brought into the fold before the trade deadline in 2017, a first-round pick and Terrence Ross the price for the shot-blocking big man.

Ibaka started in all 23 of his regular season games for the Raptors before proving to be quite a valuable commodity in the playoffs. The Raptors knew they had something to work with, but how to pull Ibaka’s true potential would be a conversation starter for the next year.

Ibaka struggled in 2018, there’s no other way to put it. Playing at power forward was an issue, Serge looked a shell of his former self.

Rather than dominating the paint, Serge spent a lot of his time outside the 3-point line, spacing the floor or being dragged outside by the opposing teams’ power forwards, leaving the less mobile — and frankly worse defender — Jonas Valanciunas to protect the rim at all costs.

Ibaka’s impact was no lower than the 2018 playoffs, despite actually starting the series against Washington relatively well. Serge looked lost in the series against Cleveland and was benched in the third game after posting up two measly points in Game Two.

Raptors fans were adamant that the team should look for deals to package Serge into, as far as we knew, he was potentially finished.

But then there was a moment that could well define Serge Ibaka’s time with the Raptors. In the offseason, it was revealed that Ibaka would be making the switch to center under new coach Nick Nurse, a revelation if there ever was one.

Ibaka has seamlessly made the switch to full-time center, starting the majority of the games this season.

Serge is looking back to his best, a rim-protecting athletic big who can feature in any big match-up, at long last there is light in the tunnel. It’s good to finally see who Serge can be in this set-up, and it lands him at number twenty-six.