Projecting Marc Gasol’s role with the Toronto Raptors

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Serge Ibaka (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

What Ibaka brings to the Raptors

The combination of Nick Nurse and playing well have done wonders for Ibaka so far this year. After a few questionable years, where he bounced around from the Thunder to the Orlando Magic and then finally to the Raptors, Ibaka seems to have finally restabilized his game and looks ready to be a championship piece again. Nurse has found success using Ibaka in the halfcourt offense, running set plays has seemed to unlock his mid-range jumper. Especially in the catch-and-shoot department, his mid-range jumper has been his go-to shot as he’s been torching defenses all season long.

Ibaka is also a great kick out option along the perimeter, even if his shots haven’t been falling all that often recently. He started the year hot as ever and was absolutely cooking during the month of November making 34-percent of his three-pointers. Ibaka has struggled recently from deep, but the hope is that the center can get back to his rhythm in order to be a real threat from long.

Throughout his career, Ibaka has also been a good ISO player, utilizing his athleticism to create a shot for himself and his teammates. Ibaka helps separate himself from Gasol with his ability to slash to the basket and go up strong against a defender. If he can’t bully his way to an easy layup or dunk Ibaka also has the tools to spin out into a fade away and leaving defenders with outstretched arms.

While Ibaka might not be as great of a passer as Gasol he can still hold his own playmaking thanks to his IQ and his athleticism. Groomed through this Nurse play style, Ibaka has shown the capability to make the extra pass that leads to an open bucket for his teammate. This talent is going to be necessary come the playoffs when every shot matters.

Although Ibaka isn’t the same defensive beast that he was in Oklahoma City he’s still a solid and reliable defensive player. His days with the Oklahoma City Thunder were highly regarded thanks to his uncanny ability to block basketballs, but as he aged and the league changed, his defense changed with it. No longer are the days of five block performances, Ibaka is much more calculated with the way he plays defense.

Carried over from his early days, Ibaka’s quick feet and lankiness allow for him to be a ‘blocking threat’ while on the defensive, but the way he uses his athleticism to shepherd opposing players into a poor shot or a help defender has become his bread and butter.  His age and athleticism allow for him to defend up and down a line up which is something Gasol simply won’t be able to provide. With Ibaka players need to always be aware, otherwise, they might end up on the wrong side of a defensive highlight.