There are a bunch of possible options for Miami to take a look at in free agency, when discussing possible big men to pair with Bam Adebayo. And the more you look into it, the more Serge Ibaka makes sense.
It truly seems as if all of Serge’s strengths are the things that can help Bam out. For one, Serge has a very respectable three ball, which gives Bam the spacing that he needs. He’s also a great offensive rebounder and shot blocker, which are two things that would be great to take a bit of weight off of Bam’s shoulders. And third, he’s a player that thrives with his back to the basket, which is obviously the opposite of what Bam likes to do.
Bam also fills a bunch of holes in Ibaka’s game, most importantly the play-making side of things. He hasn’t been the best play-maker throughout his career, and it’s clear with Bam that’s not an issue.
Serge Ibaka ran most of his offense through the pick and roll in Toronto this season, but he had some of his most inefficient numbers through that. And since Bam is one of the league’s best screen setters, that’s also not an issue.
Either way, let’s take a deeper look at how he helps Miami right now.
The spacing on the floor is what stands out most when discussing Serge, since he can stretch the floor and allow Bam to run the offense from the elbow. One of the main reasons the starting lineup with Meyers Leonard worked so well was that the offense ran so fluid due to spacing. So imagine replacing Meyers Leonard with the same type of floor spacer, but who can rebound and defend.
The spacing does not just improve because Serge can shoot the three ball, it’s also because he has a great feel for the game. He knows how to find dead-spots in the offense, usually right outside of the paint on the baseline. This spacing once again means that Bam can continue to utilize his spots at the free thow line, with the option of dishing it low to Ibaka for a layup.
His touch around the rim allows him to utilize his floater in the paint area, which is something he usually goes to off of the pick and roll. All of these things just show that he can really help their offensive flow, which isn’t even the reason for adding him to the team.
Serge definitely brings rebounding on the defensive end as well, but the offensive rebounds stand out more. He’s one of the best bigs in the league with put-backs and activity around the rim. That’s also a game changer when thinking about the Los Angeles Lakers match-up in the finals when offensive rebounding was an issue. If you had Serge on the floor, that might’ve forced Dwight Howard to play more minutes, which would’ve been beneficiary for Miami.
One of the major keys as well when discussing rebounders is giving their team extra possessions. One way to do that is by being able to utilize tap outs. Serge is very crafty with doing that, which consequently allowed Toronto many extra possessions.
And most of the time when he would grab an offensive rebound or attempt a put-back, he’d end up at the free throw line. Getting opposing bigs in foul trouble could become crucial, due to the fact that Miami would have a major height advantage with these two talented bigs.
As mentioned before, Bam does not feel comfortable with his back to the basket. And well, Serge Ibaka is a terrific post-player who likes to play physical. And it’s clear that Miami likes players who play physical. I believe Miami could run a lot of things through him in the post when Bam Adebayo is on the bench.
And as mentioned previously, he wasn’t great this year off the pick and roll. But something I noticed down the stretch of the season, is that he would dribble the ball once and get into post position every time after rolling to the basket. That’s because he has the ability to get to his spots that he feels comfortable. This led to the pick and roll becoming much more efficient.
This gives Miami’s play-makers a bunch of options between their bigs on pick and rolls. Bam can be the threat above the rim, while Serge can be the outside threat who can also get to his spot on the box.
Serge may not be the same rim protector that he once was, but he’d still be a huge factor. Sometimes a rim protector shouldn’t be labeled as a guy who gets blocks, but instead a guy who forces misses around the rim. And that’s exactly what he does, since he’s very comfortable when defending around the rim. This also allows Bam to play even more perimeter defense, which is another positive aspect.
It would also be interesting to see how the zone defense would work with these two, because I believe that would be an absolute problem for opposing offenses. Bam continuing to run across the floor per usual when in the zone, but not having to worry about the paint as much. Serge also has the ability to be mobile when in the zone, which is something that could definitely be useful.
All of these things are just extra proponents of why this Serge Ibaka signing would be so great for Miami. Although there are a bunch of options, none of them seem to have the ability to fit in immediately on both sides of the floor. He’s clearly a Miami Heat type player, who knows what it takes to win.
If Miami could pull off this signing, this Heat team would be an absolute problem for opposing teams in the East this upcoming season.