Serge Ibaka is not the big man Orlando needs, but he’s the one the city deserves… or something like that. In a draft-day trade that perhaps turned a lot of heads, the Orlando Magic acquired the former Oklahoma City Thunder forward after trading away guard Victor Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to rookie forward Domantas Sabonis.
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the trade.
Per Wojnarowski, the Thunder also had trade talks with the Toronto Raptors. Furthermore, Ibaka did not ask the Thunder for a trade.
Ibaka featured prominently in the Thunder’s deep playoff run and near upset of the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The 26-year-old made noticeable improvements to his three-point shot, especially in the playoffs. In five previous playoff runs dating back to the 2009-10 season, Ibaka averaged 0.38 three-point shots per game. In the 2016 playoffs, Ibaka averaged 3.8 three-pointers per game and made a playoff career-high 44.9 percent of those threes.
So, while the Magic do lose a slightly better three-ball shooting big man in Ilyasova (37 percent vs. 35.5 percent in the regular season), a starter-quality guard in Oladipo and an untested international rookie, bringing in Ibaka figures to fit in nicely with Nikola Vucevic. Whereas Vucevic brings a powerful inside offensive threat with a respectable mid-range jump shot (46 percent on 487 jump shots), his defensive presence leaves a lot to be desired.
In his five-year career, the 7-footer has averaged 0.9 blocks, has earned 12.0 defensive win shares, with 2.4 coming last season, and has a career defensive rating of 104. Ibaka, on the other hand, has averaged 2.5 blocks for his career, has earned 23.1 defensive win shares and has a career defensive rating of 102. Though the Republic of the Congo native has two extra years of experience, he has also played in arguably—perhaps definitively—the tougher conference.
Here’s a little taste of what the City Beautiful can expect out of Ibaka.
Anyway, the Magic still walked away with a rookie from the 2016 NBA Draft. With the 41st-overall pick, Magic general manager Rob Hennigan selected Stephen Zimmerman from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
At 7 feet, 234 pounds, Zimmerman is 12 pounds lighter than the average center prospect in the 2016 class. However, he is, on average, 2½ inches taller. In 26 games, the 19-year-old posted 10.5 points per game, 8.7 rebounds per game and 2.0 blocks per game. His two-point field-goal percentage was 49.2 percent, working mostly from the low post.
What’s ultimately concerning for the Magic, though, is how they’re going to fill the void Oladipo left. Acquiring Ibaka and Zimmerman solidifies the team’s frontcourt, while potentially deterring unrestricted free agent Dwight Howard from a return to Orlando, but it leaves the Magic’s backcourt void of any consistent, respectable perimeter threat from the guard position, save for perhaps Evan Fournier.
In four NBA seasons, Fournier is 38.9 percent from beyond the arc. The 23-year-old is coming into his own, now, as he started for 71 of the 79 games he appeared in last season after strating a combined 40 games in three previous seasons. He averaged the third-most points on the team, behind only Vucevic (18.2) and Oladipo (16.0) and had the second-highest three-point percentage with 40 percent while attempting the most three-pointers per game (4.9).
The following is who the Magic have at the guard position.
|No.||Name||Age||Height||Weight||Games (2015-16)||PPG (2015-16)||RPG (2015-16)||APG (2015-16)|
With free-agency talks starting on July 1, Orlando still has plenty more to do before the start of the 2016 season. For starters, the front office will need to fend off any potential suitors for restricted free agent Fournier. Next, they’ll need to find another reliable shooting guard.
Let’s see if Hennigan and company can work some magic.