Serge Ibaka may be averaging more points and rebounds with the Orlando Magic, but 20-year-old Domantas Sabonis is proving to the Oklahoma City Thunder that he has the offensive talent to be an everyday starter.
Yes, it's only eight games into the season, however, Sabonis has been a nice addition for the Thunder who came over in the Ibaka trade.
In his first year in the NBA through eight games, Sabonis is averaging more points than Ibaka did in his first season in the NBA. Sabonis is averaging 7.0 PPG, oppose to Ibaka's 6.3 PPG in his rookie season, according to basketball-reference.com.
In 20.8 minutes per game, Sabonis is averaging 4.0 RPG, .455 field goal percentage, and .450 three-point field goal percentage, according to basketball-reference.com.
What amazes Oklahoma City Thunder fans is the fact that a rookie power forward, who is 6-11, has the ability to hit the 3-point shot at a respectable percentage.
When Ibaka came into the league he was not a player who could spread the floor right away. Ibaka was known for his presence in the paint as a shot blocker, and got most of his points in the paint or shooting midrange shots.
On the other hand, Sabonis is proving in his first season that he has the ability to spread the floor because of the talent he possesses of posting up down low and hitting 3-pointers in the corner and at the top of the key.
In his seventh game of the season Sabonis had his best shooting night from 3-point range. Granted he did not have a good night from the field, shooting 5-of-13, however, from 3-point range Sabonis was 4-of-7, which was a career high for Sabonis in 3-pointers made in a game.
We have seen Sabonis evolve as a player in each and every game, and the reason behind that is because of one reason. No Kevin Durant.
With Durant now out of the picture in Oklahoma City, it gives other players more opportunities to shoot the ball.
Last season Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka all combined to take 48 shots per game. With Durant and Ibaka gone, who both combined to take 30 shots per game, it frees up shots for players like Sabonis, Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams -- which is a reason why head coach Billy Donovan has Sabonis in the starting lineup -- so he has an opportunity to get shots with the first team unit as well as getting experience playing with that lineup.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a special and unique talent in Domantas Sabonis. If Russell Westbrook and the Thunder are willing to be patient with this young team, give Sabonis two to three years and he will be a double-double player.