Serge Ibaka for 3? Believe It

HANGTIME SOUTHWEST – On a late-night highlight show Monday, the Oklahoma City Thunder were shown scoring just about every which way in a 114-96 victory over the visiting Phoenix Suns.

Including Serge Ibaka draining a first-quarter corner 3-pointer. The host of the highlight show specifically singled out the shot as his voice took on an incredulously high-pitched tone that suggested this was an event to behold, like a comet that comes around once a millennium.

But not so fast.

Now, Ibaka’s phenomenal surge as a mid-range jump shooter this season has been well-documented. Two months in and he’s still shooting 56.5 percent from the field and 51 percent on mid-range shots, according to NBA.com advanced stats. It’s the main reason why Ibaka has improved his scoring average by five points over last season to a career-best 14.3 points a game entering tonight’s home game against the Brooklyn Nets.

But the 3-ball? That’s hardly in the 6-foot-10, 235-pounder’s repertoire.

Or is it?

“He likes to shoot occasionally a 3, but that’s not really his range, yet,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said last month.

Yet?

“I think it’s going to get there,” Brooks said. “Hopefully maybe even this season.”

Serge Ibaka career 3-point statistics

Year 3FGM 3FGA
2009-10 1 2
2010-11 0 1
2011-12 1 3
2012-13 5 18

 

It would become quite an alternate weapon in key situations considering how defenses must target Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and 3-point sharpshooter Kevin Martin.

Ibaka isn’t going crazy from beyond the arc, but the 23 year old is gradually adding the long-range jumper to his ever-evolving game.

In the last five games, he’s taken four 3-pointers, one more than he took all of last season and just two shy of his total attempts in his first three seasons. He made two of the four in these last five games, tying his career total for made 3s before this season.

As for this season, Ibaka is 5-for-18 from beyond the arc, just 27.8 percent. Clearly he’d like to hit on a higher percentage, but the fact that he’s taken three times as many 3-pointers through 30 games this season as he had during his first three seasons combined shows that Brooks has given him the green light to prudently look for the shot.

His most memorable 3 so far was a first-half buzzer-beater from straightaway against the Clippers to give OKC a 59-49 lead in a game the Thunder would need overtime to close out. His preference is the corner 3, where he’s taken 15 of his 18 shots.

If Ibaka consistently improves from 23 feet out the way he has from inside the arc, opposing defenses will have to highlight yet another danger zone in the Thunder scouting report.

69 Comments

  1. aha! says:

    While i have nothing against players expanding their games, they should work harder on more important aspects first.

    Ibaka practicing the 3-ball, (example) is like a small PG with below average handles working on his postgame. Ibaka should work on his low-post game first with the 3-ball on the bottom of the list. The PG i mentioned as an example should be working on his handles first.

    Had either Ibaka or Perkins had any low post game, the Thunder would’ve sipped champagne instead of Miami. Spurs would’ve been a huge PITA for the Heat if they met last June.

    • Tyrone says:

      Ibaka shooting the three would spread the opposing D more making it easier for the likes of Russel Westbrook and KD to get to the basket. Plus having Ibaka practice the three doesn’t mean he can’t still spend time on his post game

  2. Reblogged this on JAB step PUMP fake and commented:
    OKC traded James Harden because they had a BIG 3 that made more sense.

  3. MARIO IB says:

    you want to create more space for durant and westbrook? put the rest of the team in the center of the court and just play with two.. ibaka is being ridiculous trying to shoot three.. and durant and nowitzki do it but they were born with this gift!! durant shoots three since highschool, nowitzki didn’t learn to shoot in his fourth season!!! come on people stop defending him this is just ridiculous..

    • Tyrone says:

      that’s illegal offense… and why shouldn’t Ibaka try to improve his game in his fourth year.. Amare is working on his post game in his whatever year just like kobe, Carmelo is working on his defense after plenty time in the leauge you should ALWAYS try to improve your game

  4. aaa says:

    OKC is just getting better and better.

  5. victor says:

    that guy who called Ibaka shooting long range to be disgusting must be a miami heat’s fan.

  6. BlackLight says:

    I think it’s crazy people are panning him for expanding his game! This is only going to help us, as long as he knows when to do it and doesn’t abandon his post for a 3 ball. But having him there will open space for KD or West to get to the rim or even open a new play book! OKC for life!!!!

  7. z3rOoOo says:

    The heck with this “QuestionMark” guy and this “Jacques Durceille” calling people names… I mean seriously, and what do u have? What are you? The guy you called “buffon” is just a couple millions richer than you and has a bright future at 23 years of age.. And what are you? Get a life..

  8. z3rOoOo says:

    whats the deal wi all these arguments about heights? geez… And someone hating a player for shooting 3′s when he is capable? I mean if im a coach, and my big can do that? I wint stop them.. It shows how they are capable of evolving their game and be known as an all around player.. Man i wish Big Ben w/c was known for defense had a mid range and back to the basket type of play.. I wish he had… His career could have been much longer.. Ibaka was known first of all as a defensive type of player and arent you just happy that for a guy who learned basketball late in his years, evolved to almost a factor on defense and offense on the floor? I mean who the heck wouldnt like that?

  9. Najee says:

    Ibaka has become one of my favorite players around the league. Alot of players in his position would just focus on defense, but he gets betta and betta every year offensively. Im not surprised that he wants to extend his range beyond the arc.

  10. Reggie Evans is an Alien! says:

    To those who have said big men shouldn’t shoot (Jacques Durceille), I have two words:

    Kevin Love

  11. It is good for Serge to improve his mid-range shooting, cause it will be a big help in scoring to the Thunder. Like when he improved his defensive plays last season and this season, that is why a player wants to improve himself to be a more productive player.

  12. Every big man entering the NBA should model their game and have the sort of work ethic that Ibaka has. Why more guys like Biyombo and Ezelli are not working on developing a consistent jump shot to supplement their defensive prowess I do not know, they only need to look at Ibaka and the contract he got to see the benefits of a work ethic in the NBA.

  13. JamFan73 says:

    Yo “heatfan”, the Heat are 29th in rebounding. That’s second to last. And they obviously have plenty of guys with athleticism. The Thunder are 7th. And 1st in blocks. That’s in part due to Ibaka. Remember, it’s a team sport. Also try to remember, Ibaka is 23 years old. He’s working on his all-around game. And if you’d look at his stats, you’d see that he is greatly improving every season, which is exactly what you want from a young talented player. So much hate out there…

    • heatfan says:

      that’s a good point that his improving. But i’m just saying he doesn’t deserve anywahere near the credit he gets for his defense. 2nd in DPOY? over dwight? over Lebron? so overrated!

      • heatfan says:

        the heat don’t have a person as physically gifted in size and athleticism as ibaka, apart of lebron, so how do you expect them to be a good rebounding team? apart of lebron doing all the rebounding, they have bosh playing as center who is decent and an undersized haslem
        heat are doing fine though! can’t wait for them to eat ibaka and perkins alive again in this years finals. That’s if OKC can get past the spurs, memphis, the new lakers to get a chance at the almighty HEAT!!!

      • The Beard says:

        Man I wished all teams could buy their talent! OKC has homegrown superstars.

  14. heatfan says:

    sorry PF then. still he is a joke for coming 2nd in DPOY! overrated!!!!! lebron and wade lived in the paint last finals! they camped there against perkins and ibaka the supposed great defenders. can’t even compare to dwight. mutumbo, mounring, TD, rodman are at a level ibaka is nowhere close to, he is just a great blocker but thats just one part of defense. work on your post defence and rebounding big man you clown!

  15. tyrone says:

    Ibaka adding a 3 point game isn’t a bad idea which would make opponents harder to defend him because he is able to be a good post player, and 3 point game which would allow him to go anywhere from the paint to the three point line. It would certainly help even though he wouldn’t be a traditional bigman anyways.

  16. Dan says:

    TWO WORDS FOR SERGE: TIAGO SPLITTER!!

  17. heatfan says:

    How about Ibaka works on REBOUNDING like what centers are meant to be decent as. with his athleticism and size and length why can’t he grab more rebounds???? work on your priorities Ibaka you fool!

  18. John says:

    Good news for the fans. More spacing for OKC if ibaka consistently knock down 3s.

  19. atomrolf says:

    Though I don’t see it like Jacques Durceille that it’s wrong for big men to expand their game to the 3-point line (how can it be wrong to improve on anything?), he’s still got a point. If guys mention the Heat, how they won it last year and how big men are dead and gone, they should not forget that the Mavs beat them the year before mainly with Dirk and Chandler dominating inside. Dirk didn’t rain 3′s like crazy in the Finals, most of his points came from posting up and driving or shooting the fadeaway, depending on what the defense gave him. That loss made LeBron work on his postgame and it made the Heat such a better team last year. So of course, it’s nice that Ibaka seems to expand his range and add the 3 to his arsenal, but he and KD should be working on their post moves as well. It would make the whole Thunder offense much more variable, less depending on jumpers and ultimately they’d have a better chance against the great perimeter defense of the Heat. I mean, you can spread the floor as much as you want, nobody will draw a double team at the 3-point line. Without an inside force it’s all about driving and breaking the D down. Against LeBron and Wade that’s a tough task.

  20. niyeniye says:

    @bobby, do you know hakeem olajuwon and patrick ewing>, you better watch them big guys shooting mid range jumpers and low-post fadeaways, and dirk is not the first big man doing that. both are the best shooting centers of all time. patrick ewing can shoot 3s.

  21. Marti says:

    And he just knocked another one! I don’t think he’ll get to be a consistent 3 point shooter, but he ‘sa beast anyway-

  22. LOL is this really what they think will help? Add another JUMP SHOOTER? Why doesn’t he practice his post moves instead? Championship is not won with jump shots but rather by making points inside. It’s a fact. Man this would go against them..

    • RJ says:

      I actually saw someone was interviewing him recently and he said he works a lot on his post game as well as his jump shot. Maybe it was on Game Time on here.

  23. joey says:

    really yall!!!!!!!!!! i can honestly say that if serge ibaka can be a threat from 3-point land, then the thunder will improve dramatically. if anyone saw the christmas day game against miami, you can easily say that it would come in handy. miami was double’n durant mostly and a little on westbrook. westbrook is a streaky shooter and his shot selection is pedestrian at best. kd is gonna be kd, in the christmas day game he was limited to 8 pts in the first half due to early foul trouble which was complete bs. knowing miami and how they play at home ( flop city) and the HORRIBLE refferees who made HORRIBLE calls. what im trying to say is that the if the thunder want to win against miami or against miami in the finals ( which we all know that it will be miami and okc in the finals) then they have to expand ibaka’s 3-point play. if they try and take out durant and westbrook then that leaves ibaka, and if he shows himself that he is a beast from downtown, then the next game in the series will see miami doublin ibaka and leaving room for kd and westbrook. mostly KD. and btw, its not disgusting to see a bigman go ham from downtown think about amare stoudemire, heck javale mcgee hit a three against the clippers and dwight made one. another btw, kevin durant is 6’9, get it right.

  24. jerikobe says:

    i crush him…. but would be better if he develop some post up moves… coz he is so big, and masculine..he is a center kind of player

  25. KOBE IS GREAT says:

    I think OKC is going to be unstoppable quite soon. My favorite team is the Lakers but I think if Ibaka starts shooting threes, the opponents will have to guess who is shooting who is driving, having a all around game is good, being a big man doesn’t mean you have to pound inside, of course you will need to do that most of the time, but Ibaka already proved himself a good inside defender and great dunker, Then soon KD and Westbrook will have more chances to drive unexpectedly and Ibaka can shoot the three ball at times if he practices.

  26. GSW says:

    the big fella makes a shot, then suddenly he is the new reggie miller

  27. Bryan MacDonald says:

    No one said he is going to be shooting 3s all the time. Ibaka does produce on the inside and the midrange at a high level. They ARE unstoppable because he is producing on the inside and hitting his high % shots. but if he keeps up the practice he can knock down a 3 when hes wide open, why not? and if they do put pressure on him more room in the lane to drive. Just adding another weapon to an already solid team.

  28. Allen says:

    At the PF position, I see no problem with Ibaka improving his range away from the basket, why shouldn’t he? He already established his self as a threat on the inside; so imagine how the Thunder could work the Pick and roll if Ibaka steadily improves his shot from the outside. Teams would be helpless against it.

  29. shakur says:

    This is a pointless article

  30. bobby says:

    everyone’s trying to be like Dirk Nowitzki now! What is going on?

  31. Jacques Durceille says:

    Do not defend Ibaka the center boy for taking 3′s. OKC has enough shooting guards, they need a good inside man like denzel washington(it is a good joke don’t say otherwise) who can produce on the inside area. OKC has enough shooters get this ibaka clown on the inside backing down opponents and putting the ball in the net that way.

    It is disgusting that these big guys think they are shooting guards. Kevin durant is a tall man built think like a twig, he can’t get on the inside he is too light and frail. That is ibaka’s job and he should do it instead of shooting from outside so much.

    OKC will be unstoppable if he produces on the inside getting quality highER percentage shots. Ibaka needs to pound through the inside.

    • Breeezy says:

      Do you watch, or have any idea of the way the Thunder or the game of modern NBA is played? Very serious question.

    • yEp says:

      Hey anger issues!

      Ibaka’s just expanding him game, no reason to criticize him just because he wants to expand his range to the 3-point line, he’ll have a lot of chances pounding guys within the lane, the 3-point shot is just another weapon in his already expanding arsenal that can be an option from time to time.

      Watch Dirk or Bargnani you buffoon, maybe he’ll change your mind on big guys draining 3-pointers.

      No ones telling him to shoot every time, it’s just an option for him when needed.

    • Akuhano says:

      “He can’t get on the inside he is too light and frail”
      “Shooting from the outside so much”
      Do you even watch basketball?

    • kristo says:

      well if you got to the playerprofile then you will find out that ibaka is an inch taller but they weigh the same :S go figure big guy

      • RJ says:

        Ibaka and Durant are the same height. It’s clear by looking at them that if Durant does weigh what he’s listed, it’s perhaps because his arms are so long, or perhaps because he’s mostly bone and the rest muscle, but more like likely because they added 5 or so pounds to his actual weight. And Ibaka, while not the bulkiest guy in the nba, clearly weighs more than Durant, and likely more than 235 or whatever he’s listed at, which was a figure from what, 2009? And you can tell he’s put on some weight since then, but they usually don’t change guys listed weights, unless they change teams, sometimes. I’m guessing based on rookie measurements, listed weights, their respective heights and wingspans, and just by watching the games, that Durant is between 220 and 225 and Ibaka is closer to 240 to 245 now.

    • dattebayo says:

      You are a funny clown, ridiculing every big man for his lack of post play. Ibaka is the 4th option on offense and they don’t run plays for him so that he “can play shooting guard”. Ibaka gets a few open midrange jumpshots every game as a byproduct of the Thunder’s offense. In this season, Ibaka is the Thunder’s best midrange jumpshooter (above 50%) and you wanna tell me that he shouldn’t take them because he should rather post up? If you compare his midrange game with other players in this league, Ibaka and KG turn out to be the most effective at it. So telling Ibaka to not shoot those jumpers is like telling Steve Novak to stop shooting threes.

      Ibaka has only attempted 18 three-pointers in 30 games and he isn’t shooting them because he wants to. Usually the defense forces him to make that shot or the shot-clock is running down. Your inability to conceive that simple fact speaks volumes about your basketball IQ.

      • RJ says:

        Well said. If the defense gives you that shot and it’s the only option, and there isn’t time to get anyone a better look, and you have the potential to make that shot when needed with a little work, why wouldn’t you work on that shot? That way you have one more way to get a good shot off when you need it. As long as he doesn’t end up sitting on the outside 75% of the time like Channing Frye. Balance is good. Playing from the inside out is good. I do agree with the frenchman on that.

    • Mino says:

      the heat just won an NBA championship without a center. the times have changed.

    • coldkase says:

      I think you are taking the positions of the players too literally Jacques, the fact that the position is called a “shooting guard” doesn’t mean they are the only players who are allowed to “Shoot Jumpshots” and because Ibaka is a “Power Forward” doesnt mean that his only role is to “Power Forward into the lowpost” Do you think that Point Guards are called that because they point to other players as they are directing the offense?
      Of course I’m kidding, but the posts you put up on this site are among some of the most uninformed I have ever seen on an internet forum.
      The comment above about Kevin Durant not being able to “get on the inside” makes me think that you have never ever seen a Thunder Game. Ibaka is a “Good Inside Man” he scores most of his 14PPG in the Paint, and he is expanding his midrange game which is always going to improve his overall skillset, he has improved his game every year and will continue to improve, Saying that a power forward shouldn’t shoot from midrange is like saying that Michael Jordan never should have driven the lane because he was a shooting guard and its not the part of the court he is supposed to be shooting from,

  32. Just wondering!!! says:

    Add Pau Gasol. He’s been knocking em down.

  33. googergieger says:

    Three point contest this year.

    Ibaka
    Dwight Howard
    Andrew Bynum
    Javale McGee!

    • dandaman says:

      tru dat

    • Dieter says:

      That would be nice ! But shouldn’t they organize A FT contest instead? With Dwight Howard, Andres Biedrins, Deandre Jordan and Javale McGee. Than they still have a chance to get at least 1 bucket.

      Instead of removing the center position from the All-Star ballot, they should’ve removed the rest, and only invite centers, how cool would that be? Javale McGee as point guard !

      Also rookies vs sophmores, why not top rookies vs bad top draft picks? Seeing the rookies in action against Hasheem Thabeet, Andrea Bargnani, Jan Vesley, Johnny Flynn, Jordan Hill, Michael Beasley, Yi, Tyrus Thomas, Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton would be awesome ! Ok, some players in this list had some good seasons statistical wise, like Bargnani (but what the hell, this guy should’ve been a star by now and he still plays like a rookie) and Raymond Felton (What a joke in Portland, I’m still pissed they got rid of Miller, it’s scary to compare him with Miller and Lillard). I know this is difficult to organize because the bad top draft picks probably wouldn’t like to play, but it would be cool.

      • RG says:

        if there’s an FT contest, it should be, Dwight “superman” Howard, Javale McGee, Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol and bloedsoe

  34. Jacques Durceille says:

    This man is a fool. Another big man who thinks he is a shooting guard. Send down inside the block and pummel his head in the lane to get good quality shots. I’m tired of this big buffoons thinking they are shooting guards,leave the shooting to westbrook,martin, and durant. Ibaka needs to pound his head through the inside and that is the end of the matter.

    This is disappointing. Yet another big buffoon who thinks he is a shooting guard when he needs to play on the inside or back down people and turn and hit a jumper like the old rasheed wallace of the trail blazers used to do.

    This is disgusting.

    • The Beard says:

      In case you didn’t know, KD is 6’11. Is he just another big buffoon jacking up 3′s? And you may say, well he’s like 50 lbs, he’s not really a big man, well look at Kevin Garnett and Javale McGee? What about LBJ? Hes got the body of a big man. Like it said Ibaka is not going crazy from 3, he’s just taking his already solid game to another level, becoming a more complete player. I don’t see whats so disgusting about a player seeing an area in his game he could improve and actually trying to improve it.

      • Caramello Frog says:

        KD isn”t 6’11, he is like 6’8 or 6’9 haha!

      • Arvs says:

        well, go search some images, Like example in the Olympic game, where USA met Spain, Durant and Mark Gasol met each other face to face, and they are just as tall as each other. Mark Gasol is 7ftr by the way.. and he is much taller than lebron who is 6’8″ and much taller then Rudy Gay who is 6’9″ YES he is listed 6’9″ but he is much taller than it is. but iguess it’s mroe accurate to say that he is 6’10″

      • Mino says:

        he’s not 6’11″ or 6’8″/6’9″

        He’s 6’10, like he always has been. That’s the height of many centers today.

      • soo says:

        To Caramello:

        According to the internet.. KD is recorded as 6’9, but has a 7’5 wingspan, and ibaka is 6’10 with a 7’4 wingspan.

      • soo says:

        You could say without shoes he’s 6’9, but with he’s 6’10. Depends on how you look at it.

      • RJ says:

        Wow… where do people get these heights from? Durant isn’t 6’11″. He’s nots 6’8″ or 6’9″. He’s 6’9″ without shoes, 6’10 1/4″ with shoes, and since no one plays without their shoes, he’s 6’10″. Here: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/kevin-durant-390/

        And also, Lamar Odom isn’t 6’9 or 6’11, KG isn’t 7’0″, LeBron James isn’t 6’9″. Landry Fields is easily 6’8″ in shoes, not 6’7″. Paul George is 6’9″ in shoes, not 6’8″. Donte Greene is 6’9″ in shoes, not 6’11″, unless he’s wearing platforms. The only ones I wouldn’t count are the guys who wear 2″+ thick soled shoes to the combine. Like Cole Aldrich. I don’t know where people get these figures, but I’ve never seen them anywhere (other than KD being listed at 6’9″ on his player page. That’s in socks.)

        Most of these guys though, Lamar has always been listed at 6’10″. KD was listed at 6’9 for a year most places, and then they corrected it. KG has always been 6’11. LeBron has always been 6’8″ Jeremy Lin is 6’3″ barefoot. has been since college. Kirk Hinrich has always been 6’4″. Ty Lawson is 6’0″ and has been forever; he just wants people to think that what he’s doing is one inch more impressive. In any case we don’t just say he’s 5’9″ or 6’1″, just for the sake of trying to sound right and make someone else sound wrong, do we? No, we either know about something, we don’t know and look it up, or we shut our mouths.

        Too summarize, There is NO WAY (and no evidence to support) that Durant is 6’8″ or 6’11″. I guess the 6’9″ 6’10″ thing is your preference. As a rule, it seems most guys in pro basketball are listed at their height in shoes, generally an extra inch to inch and a half. Please stop doing this people, yes, it’s trivial, but it’s also really stupid and irritating.

      • RJ says:

        And Rudy Gay is 6’8″ in shoes. That’s another one… http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Rudy-Gay-34/ Look at him in game. There’s no way he’s 6’10″ or even 6’9″. He’s a half inch or so taller than most of the guys who are listed at 6’8″, but he goes pretty much 6’8″. Look for yourself. Those are the Draft combine measurements.

    • QuestionMark says:

      What a dumb comment. Players play differently, even if they are big men, players like Howard and Bynum play inside, players like Dirk, KG can shoot jumpshots. I really don’t see any problems with this. Plus Ibaka hitting jumpers will help open up the floor for KD and Westbrook to attack, it helps them much more than Ibaka just sitting in the paint. I have no clue why your criticizing anyway, Ibaka can still play in the paint, and defend the paint of course, he can hit jumpers and still leads the league in block shots and gets rebounds. If you were talking about a player like Bargnani, who can hit shots, but rebounds like a SG for a 7’0, then you may have a point. If shooting big men are disgusting, then I guess your saying Dirk is the most disgusting? Funny.

    • celtics says:

      KD is like 6’9 and a great shooter and ibaka is about 1 inch taller.Saying he isn’t going to be a great shooter lik KD is crazy.

    • Ben says:

      Ibaka is simply not a buffoon, and OKC’s success should be at least one good indicator of this.

    • Schemer21 says:

      This could be the most stupid comment I’ve ever heard. The man is a fool? It’s disappointing? Disgusting??
      What are you talking about?? You are saying that it is a complete negative for Ibaka to work on his game and expand his offensive repoitore and make himself more of a threat on the floor??
      I’m not even going to get into the completely stupid height comment you made, there are enought comments about it below, but Durant aside i will mention 2 other names – Dirk and Magic, your arguement is totally invalid.
      Now on the flip side, considering the fact that you find it ‘disgusting’ that a big man should work on his outside game and improve his play, do you find it ‘disgusting’ that in the past number of years players such as both Kobe and Lebron have worked with Hakeem Olajuwon to improve their inside play and playing with their backs to the basket??
      By the way, talk about showing your total ignorance – ‘he needs to play like the old Rasheed Wallace of the Trail Blazers use to do??? Ibaka kas taken 24 3 pointers in 4 seasons. In his last 4 seasons with Portland Wallace took 959 3 pointers!!! So great example, thanks for blinding us with your extensive knowledge of the NBA!!

    • Butters says:

      So… you’ve never heard of Kevin Love before?

  35. QuestionMark says:

    If Ibaka starts nailing 3s consistently, then it will give KD and Westbrook more space to attack the rim. Since Perkins can’t shoot, if you play with the line up of Westbrook, Martin, Sefolosha, KD and Ibaka, you can really space the floor out and do some damage with KD and Westbrook, but Ibaka hitting 3s consistently is a few seasons away, and that is if he practices.