LA Clippers: 3 Reasons Why Signing Serge Ibaka Was Important

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OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 13: Kawhi Leonard #2 and Serge Ibaka #9 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates their teams victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game Six to win the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

1. Serge Ibaka and Kawhi Leonard are back to their playing days in Toronto

Before Kawhi was traded to the Raptors, Ibaka was a solid starting power forward in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 NBA season. Ibaka averaged a field-goal shooting percentage of 47.1% as well as 13.4 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, and .8 assists per game.

In the season that Leonard was Raptor, Ibaka transitioned to the center position where he played in 74 games with 51 starts. Ibaka was one of the most important role players for Toronto outside of Leonard and point guard Kyle Lowry. With Leonard on the team, Ibaka averaged a field-goal percentage of 52.9% as well as 15 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, 1.3 assists per game, and 1.4 blocks per game.

Ibaka developed a deep connection with Leonard immediately both on and off the court. Leonard has always been a silent individual, but he was more outspoken and open when he was with Ibaka. His cooking video with Leonard currently has over five million views on YouTube.

Both players were some of the most consistent defenders in the regular season as well in the 2019 NBA Playoffs. The Raptors defeated the Philadelphia 76ers on a game seven buzzer-beater from Leonard, the Milwaukee Bucks in six games, the Golden State Warriors in a six-game NBA Finals setting. This was the first NBA Championship for Ibaka in his second appearance with his first being in the 2012 NBA Finals.

It will not take long for Leonard and Ibaka to develop that chemistry on the court as they had in Toronto in the 2018-2019 NBA season. Leonard is a playmaker that is not afraid to spread the ball around. Ibaka will also help create a more aggressive pick and roll offense that new head coach Ty Lue wants to establish, which will give a clear lane for Leonard to attack the basket.

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