3 reasons why re-signing Serge Ibaka makes sense for Milwaukee Bucks

Mar 12, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /
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"MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – FEBRUARY 14 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)"

Yesterday on July 4th, it was announced that the Milwaukee Bucks have surprisingly re-signed veteran center Serge Ibaka to a one year deal. Ibaka has played in a multitude of cities and in a multitude of roles throughout his illustrious career, including on the 2019 NBA Championship winning Toronto Raptors.

Last season, after being traded to the Bucks, Ibaka played the role of bench warmer/insurance for most of the season, logging 3.7 minutes per game in the playoffs. Therefore, at first glance, it looks to be a bit of a strange signing for the Bucks. Why bring back a guy who could barely crack the playoff rotation? However, while he may not be vintage Serge, there are a few reasons why bringing him back makes sense.

Reason #1 why re-signing Serge Ibaka makes sense for the Milwaukee Bucks: A Brook Lopez insurance policy

Throughout the 2021 NBA playoffs and the 2021-2022 regular season, it became astonishingly clear how important Brook Lopez was to the Bucks on both ends of the floor. When Brook went down with a back injury that would eventually require surgery, his absence was immediately felt. The Bucks were no longer able to execute their base drop defense, and it felt like teams could finish in the paint whenever they wanted to.

The numbers back up the eye test as well. While defensive rating is a team stat, it is telling that last season was the worst the Bucks finished in defensive net rating since Brook joined the squad in 2018. Additionally, teams finished at a 62.9% clip within 6 feet during last year’s regular season, a roughly 5% spike from the 57.6% allowed in the 2020-2021 regular season.

Although Serge isn’t the same player Brook is, he still fills a need for the Bucks if Brook were to re-aggravate his back injury. He has some experience in a drop, and he can knock down threes when asked of him. Considering how thin they were in the frontcourt last season without Brook, the Bucks needed another guy in case of emergency, and Serge can fill that role.