Andre Roberson. Andre 3000. Thabo 2.0. These are a few names the 26th pick in the 2013 Draft goes by. And it seems the last may be the most fitting, or at least what most OKC fans hope fits. It seems Roberson was drafted to be the heir-apparent to Thabo Sefolosha, an unrestricted free agent this offseason who appears unlikely to be resigned by the Thunder. So can Roberson step up and fill the shoes left by number 25? That remains to be seen. But let’s take a look at what he accomplished this season:
Offensive Grade: D
It was a rough year offensively for Andre Roberson. Shooting splits 48.5 % and 14.5% from 3-point range demonstrate his lack of touch and natural shooting skill. But these numbers also mean there’s nowhere to go but up. With an average of 1.9 points in 40 appearances, 16 of those starts in place of the injured Thabo Sefolosha, Roberson lived in the paint, with 80.9% of his total shot attempts occurring in the painted area, shooting 56.4% in the restricted area and 67.6% 3-10 feet away from the basket; and from 10-24 feet Roberson connected on none of his jumpshots, while shooting abysmally from three. Also averaging .5 assists per game, it’s clear his offensive presence as a playmaker is still a work in progress. But those three words are what Sam Presti has built this team on: works in progress.
Defensive Grade: B+
On the defensive side of the ball it was a whole different kind of year for Roberson. Per 100 possessions he compiled averages of 2.4 steals per game and 1.7 blocks per game, high enough to be in the top twenty among league shooting guards. Disrupting passing lanes and direct lines to the basket, Roberson performed on a prime Sefolosha-esque level on defense. Not to go unnoticed was his intensity, averaging 6.7 fouls per game per 46 minutes. If he can harness that intensity into his style of lockdown defense, he can truly become a disruptive presence on the floor.
But although the stats may show something, Roberson’s play on the floor shows another. Not only is he there seemingly grabbing every rebound or diving after every loose ball, he’s always one of the first off the bench, whether in a freshly pressed suit or a freshly ironed jersey bearing the number 21, to offer a high five or a couple of words of motivation; and that’s what this organization thrives on. There’s no place on this team for egomaniacs upset with their lack of playing time: you’re with the team or you’re not. And Roberson has embraced that role. He’s always ready to jump up at the sound of his name. Another big part of that role is being sent down to the D-League. Rather than sulk, he seized the moment and put up excellent numbers as a 66er. Roberson embodies everything the Thunder look for in a player and a person, and his time to shine will come soon, with or without Thabo.
Keys for improvement - as stated before, Roberson is a work in progress on the offensive side of the ball. He has the athletic ability and length to become a great presence around the basket, but if he wishes to garner more minutes, he must improve his shooting.
Overall Grade: C-