Feb. 16, 2017
Toronto Raptors trade Ross, add Ibaka in push for playoffs
The Toronto Raptors have traded Terrance Ross and a first round pick for power forward Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic, hoping to improve on last years Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
After closely looking at Ibaka in the off season, the price proved too high causing the Raptors president Masai Ujiri to hold on trading for the forward.
But on Valentines Day, the price was right, and the timing was necessary to make a trade.
Rewind to Sunday evening.
The Raptors had yet another fourth quarter collapse, this time blowing a 16 point lead to lose to the Detroit Pistons, making it just four wins in their last ten games. Both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan expressed their displeasure, suggesting that they were worried about the state of the team, and that “change” wasn't a bad thing.
To say the Raptors were in turmoil would be an understatement. Something needed to give.
Just two days later, Ujiri delivered the All-Star back court what they wanted.
A 6' 10'' seven year pro, Ibaka fills a starting role at the power forward position. A spot that has been the primary point of discussion upon which the Raptors would need to improve to catch the Cleveland Cavaliers (and now Boston and Washington) for the top seed in the East.
Toronto currently ranks fifth in points scored a game in the NBA.
That's pretty impressive.
But despite their high offensive ranking, Toronto ranks dead last in points from the shooting forward position, at a meager 13 points a game. Who ranks first? Cleveland with just over 30 points per game.
Ibaka's average of nearly 15.1 points per game, is higher than any Raptor outside of DeRozan and Lowry. This while playing for an Orlando team, which is ranked 29th in points scored a game. If he could do it for the Magic with less offensive support, no doubt he should be more successful with a cast around him that can score some points as well.
Another area Toronto has struggled is rebounding, ranked the 24th ranked rebounding team in the league, Ibaka's average of just over 7 boards a game will help Toronto. More specifically Lucas Nogueira and Jonas Valanciunas.
Not to mention that after the success Congolese star Bismack Biyombo had for Toronto last year in the playoffs. Ibaka, another player from the Congo, may be just the spark the Raptors needed come playoff time.
The bottom line?
Toronto is a more dangerous team with Ibaka on the roster.
And although it may not be a ring, Raptors fans should be okay with receiving Ibaka on Valentines day.
After all, the rings may come later.