In the 2011-12 season, James Harden was the Oklahoma City Thunder's third option, and rightfully so.
Harden is an excellent scorer, who plays efficient basketball and excels at getting to the line.
However, the Thunder might end up being better off without him, especially in the playoffs.
This is because OKC is now able to give Serge Ibaka a more expanded role in their offense.
Now, no one's going to sit here and tell you that Ibaka is a better offensive player than Harden, but getting him more involved on offense should lead to him being more active all over the court.
It's fairly easy to see the effect that increased touches can have on a player's effort level. After all, how hard would you try if you knew you were never getting the ball?
Ibaka is only taking about three more shots per game, but his scoring is up by almost four and a half points and he's rebounding at a higher rate.
Another added benefit of Ibaka's increased production is that it gives the Thunder a more varied offensive attack.
Again, Harden is the better offensive player, but he's also a perimeter player like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
Ibaka, as a frontcourt player who can shoot the ball exceptionally well from mid-range, gives teams one more thing they have to game plan around and spaces the floor effectively for his All-Star teammates.