The NBA trade season is upon us and the first big name is on the move as Serge Ibaka leaves the Magic to head to Toronto. Yahoo Sports super reporter Adrian Wojnarowski had the scoop (as always):
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 14, 2017
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The addition of Serge Ibaka is huge for them and could solve some of the problems they’ve been having. The starting five for Toronto is great with just the one big hole at power forward. Rookie Pascal Siakam has started in that spot 38 times this year and he hasn’t impressed anyone. They’ve also seen rookie Jakob Poeltl, Patrick Patterson and Lucas Nogueira log minutes at power forward. Ibaka is an upgrade over all of them.
While Ibaka’s game is a lot different than it once was during his prime in OKC, he is still a valuable player. His blocks and rebounds are his lowest since his rookie year, but he’s upped his three-point attempts and is scoring at a much higher clip. That works well on this team as Jonas Valanciunas can protect the rim and rebound which will allow Ibaka to help spread the floor. His counting stats could take a hit moving to a much better team, but that should improve his efficiency and he should be better overall here.
The Raptors gave up Terrence Ross in the deal which stings a bit, but is hard to get too upset about with second year player Norman Powell on the bench, dying for more minutes. Powell was a cult hero in the playoffs last season and more minutes for him is not a bad thing at all. Toronto will also send their 2017 first round pick to the Magic which should be in the mid 20s.
Considering that the Magic gave up the 11th pick in last year’s draft plus Victor Oladipo (and Ersan Ilyasova) to acquire Ibaka, this has to be considered a big failure on their part. A worse draft pick, a failed move and the team in worse shape than they were last season is not a good look. Someone could be losing their job over this one. Tyson Ross could flourish in Orlando if they want him to. There is definitely an opportunity for someone to score down there and Ross has shown flashes that he could be a scorer in this league.
This move is all about Toronto though. They’ve recently dropped all the way down to the four/five seed and could have a hard time getting back in the top three thanks to the red hot Celtics and Wizards. They are just 4-6 over their last time and are really hurt by their 14-13 road record. Better times are ahead for them, but for a team that many thought could steal the top seed in the East before the season this has to be considered a disappointment. It’ll be interesting to see how Ibaka fits in the offense with Lowry and DeMar Derozan needing the ball, but it’s not like he’s never been in that role before. He did play behind Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant for all those years. This should be a cakewalk compared to that.
As of this writing the Raps are +3500 to win the championship and +1100 to win the Eastern Conference. It was always going to be an uphill climb for them, but this is a lot steeper hill than anyone could’ve expected. Toronto is only four games out of the Atlantic division behind Boston and thus four games out of the second seed. That’s a lot to make up, but they aren’t getting much of a chance. The only division bet that 5Dimes has on the board is this one:
|Atlantic Division – Winner|
|Boston Celtics win Atlantic Div||-335|
|Field wins Atlantic Division||+255|
Not exactly a big vote of confidence. However, if this trade works out how they expect it to this could be a great value. The Celtics can’t stay this hot forever and better times are ahead for the Raps. Stay tuned.
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