#2 Serge Ibaka – Toronto Raptors
Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant had a great run as teammates during their time with the Oklahoma City Thunder. They made the NBA Finals in 2012 and were always seen as a contender to win a championship.
Despite KD’s ugly exit from OKC, it seems like Ibaka and KD have maintained a great friendship, as KD recently made an appearance on Ibaka’s cooking show and even joked about the narrative of KD being a snake.
On the court, Ibaka is still getting it done, averaging 16 points on a very efficient 51.8 percent shooting from the floor and 8.3 rebounds per game.
The numbers don’t tell the whole story with Ibaka though. What made the Raptors so successful during their championship run last season was the ability to let the Raptors switch Kawhi Leonard off of the opposing team’s best player and allow Pascal Siakam and Ibaka to take on some of the slack.
Particularly, the Raptors were able to contain Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks by switching Kawhi off of him in certain sets and allowing Ibaka to use his strength and defensive IQ to wipe away clean looks at the basket.
The Raptors are rated better defensively with Ibaka off the floor than with him on it, but the Raptors have so many good defenders, and Ibaka may be playing out of position at times at the center, so that might play a factor.
Using the eye test though, Ibaka has a knack for blocking shots which earned him the nickname “Iblaka,” and he’ll always make life harder for the offense inside the paint.