The Thunder were dealt a severe blow in their attempt to get back to the NBA Finals when Russell Westbrook underwent surgery today to alleviate more swelling issues in the same knee where he tore a lateral meniscus in last season’s playoffs. Despite the loss of their All-Star point guard, they got a win in Charlotte on Friday night, 89-85, and Serge Ibaka again showed why he’s one of the best defensive big men in the entire league.
Lost amid the shuffle of James Harden off to Houston last offseason was the decision by the Thunder to keep Ibaka. The Congolese-Spanish big man has remained one of the NBA’s top rim protectors — just check out his SportVU company — even after his new deal. He’s also developed a pretty mid-range jumper to keep opposing bigs honest and spread the floor for Kevin Durant and Russ.
Despite the improvement in his offensive game, it’s Ibaka’s stout defense against Bobcats big Josh McRoberts on Friday night that led Sam Presti and Co. to keep their center before trading their talented third guard.
What do you think?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @countcenci.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.