Milwaukee Bucks: Grading Serge Ibaka’s season at the All-Star break

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 14 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 14 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Given that Serge Ibaka has only played three games with the Milwaukee Bucks since coming over at the trade deadline, it is hard to evaluate his overall performance. Still, regardless of the minimal sample size, there have been some early glimpses of Ibaka’s potential and how he may fit with the team in their quest to repeat as NBA champions down the line this season. With all that out of the way, let us look closer at Ibaka’s performance and hand him a grade.

Grading Serge Ibaka’s early performance with the Milwaukee Bucks

Through three games, Ibaka is averaging 6.7 points, six rebounds, and one assist in 26.3 minutes per contest. Offensively, things have been hit or miss for Ibaka thus far, as he is shooting 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) from the floor. The big man has been solid from 2-point range, going 6-of-10, but has struggled from 3-point territory by hitting just 2-of-7. A big chunk of those 3-point shooting woes came in Milwaukee’s last game against the Philadelphia 76ers, where Ibaka knocked down just one triple in five attempts. Ibaka looked justifiably rusty on the offensive end in his first three games with the team as he attempted to find his footing in a new environment.

The biggest challenge for Ibaka moving forward will be finding a steady groove from the perimeter. The 6-foot-10 center has been a serviceable 3-point shooter throughout his lengthy career, and if he can start hitting those shots with regularity with the Bucks, it would help make his transition to the team that much easier. The Bucks have always asked their big men to let it fly with confidence, and Ibaka has shown a willingness to do that early on.

Ibaka has helped out on the defensive end as well by providing a towering presence in the interior to make things difficult for opponents. With starting center Brook Lopez sidelined for most of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis were previously the only interior protection on the roster. Ibaka has given the team that added boost by protecting the hoop, which has allowed both Antetokounmpo and Portis to be utilized elsewhere. The three-time All-Defensive honoree and two-time Block Champion has given the defending champs a big boost on that side of things, and it will be interesting to see how it carries over post-All-Star break.

Lastly, Ibaka has been solid in the rebounding department as well, pulling down six on average in his early tenure with the Bucks. Milwaukee has been an outstanding rebounding team this season by pulling down the third-most in the league at 46.5 per game, and Ibaka has helped them in that regard early on. Having a capable rebounder such as Ibaka out on the floor when Antetokounmpo or Portis are taking a breather has helped and will continue to help throughout the season.

Overall, it is early, but Ibaka has been good for the Milwaukee Bucks thus far, providing a spark on both sides of the ball with his scoring, defense, and rebounding.

BTBP All-Star Break Grade: B

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Following the NBA All-Star break, Ibaka should be recharged and have an even better idea of the system under head coach Mike Budenholzer.