Since he was thrust into the Oklahoma City Thunder starting lineup as a small forward, Andre Roberson‘s offensive inability has always been apparent. Fortunately, OKC had Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to mask his issues. Both Durant and Westbrook had to overcompensate for their teammate’s scoring woes, often over-exerting themselves on offense. Now with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony replacing Durant in the starting lineup, Roberson still faces some of the same problems as a shooting guard.
With the reputation as a lock-down defender, Roberson has been able to divert the conversation away from his lack of scoring for the past couple of seasons. But a team with Westbrook, George, and Anthony has a metaphorical magnifying glass on it, so Roberson can no longer escape the conversation.
Sunday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves served as further proof that OKC has yet to figure out an offensive role for Roberson. The OKC starters accounted for 85 of the team’s 113 points, with Roberson contributing 0 points and a single rebound in 22 minutes of action. In three games this year, Roberson’s highest scoring game of six points came during the first game of the Thunder season. The question of how much of his struggles are due to him not being used correctly or him being a straight up liability on offense will likely be a theme all season.
In the first three games, Roberson is being used as a spot up shooter, rather than the cutter that his limited scoring capacity allows. Specifically against Minnesota, Roberson tends to stand stagnantly in the corner while the offense moves around him. It’s only been a few games, but Roberson’s inability (or unwillingness) to improvise on offense like he does on defense is troubling.
When he’s on the court, OKC averages an 88.6 offensive rating, third-lowest on the team. Surprisingly enough, he also has the worst defensive rating on his team, 104.1 points per 100 possessions.
Before the loss to the Timberwolves, Thunder head coach Billy Donovan attributed Roberson’s early struggles to an offseason plasma injection surgery on his left knee.
“I still think he’s working to get himself back to where he was at the end of last season defensively,” said Donovan. “He’s not quite there yet, which is understandable.”
While the source of Roberson’s problems may be unclear, this period for adjustment is definitely needed for this newly-formed team.
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