Ekene Ibekwe, Rebounding, and Melbourne’s Improved Roster

Prior to seeing preseason games, Melbourne’s roster looks much more balanced than what they put on the floor in 2014-15. They’re bigger, with Ekene Ibekwe (reported to be announced as signed this week) and Majok Majok joining the team, but have also maintained quality depth despite turning over more than half of their roster from last season.

Rebounding was one issue that was apparent in 2014-15 as they posted a league worst TRB% (45.1). On the defensive glass they ranked as a middle of the pack team whilst on the offensive boards they were a clear 8th.

Linked with this was their lack of size and rim protection as Daniel Kickert played a lot of the five spot (and later, development player Chris Patton). Melbourne predictably ranked last in the league for BLK% but did manage to finish a decent 4th in defensive efficiency. The acquisitions of Ibekwe and Majok are clearly attempts to address the size deficit, whilst the rumoured Ronnie Brewer signing made little sense with Chris Goulding, Todd Blanchfield and David Barlow already set to earn a big chunk of minutes.

TRB% (2014-15 stats)
OUT IN Differential
Lucas Walker 13.5% Ekene Ibekwe 15.3% 1.80%
Mark Worthington 12.4% Majok Majok 19.5% 7.10%
Auryn MacMillan 11.7% Chris Patton 11.9% 0.20%
Owen Odigie 8.9% Todd Blanchfield 11.6% 2.70%

Ibekwe finished the season with a better TRB% (and ORB%) than any United player last season, whilst he also ranked 1st in the league for BLK%. His combination of length, athleticism and mobility make him a tremendous fit. Check out some of his defensive work with New Zealand:

Melbourne shot extremely well and played the 2nd quickest pace in the league last season, which is no surprise given the makeup of their roster. One important thing about having Ibekwe as an import on this roster in particular is the fact that he does not need the ball in his hands to be successful on offense. He will simply run the floor, clean up misses, finish lobs, knock down the occasional open jump shot and be a complimentary player to everyone else on the floor.

Melbourne will be a must watch team in the preseason with their depth of talent. Now it’s over to the coaching staff to make sure things come together in reality like they appear to be coming together on paper.

Any questions? Tweet me @crunchtimeshots.

Note: Advanced stats were taken from RealGM.com

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