Should Anthony Morrow Start Over Andre Roberson?


For as long as the Thunder have been in Oklahoma City, they have had a below average offensive player at the shooting guard position.

This season, shooting guard Andre Roberson is averaging 3.6 PPG, 1.1 APG, 4.1 RPG – not the most stellar stat line from a starter on a championship contender. Five seasons prior to Roberson, Thabo Selelosha was the starting SG for the Thunder and he averaged a total of 5.6 PPG over his five years in OKC. 

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While these numbers aren’t great, there must be an understanding of OKC’s system. Under head coach Scott Brooksthey have always relied on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to shoulder the load on offense, as it should be. The SG position for the Thunder has been used as a perimeter defensive stopper. First with Sefalosha and then this season with Roberson.

I know I speak for many Thunder fans when I say that it is almost agonizing to watch Roberson on the offensive end sometimes. While there is no doubting his defensive talents and potential, his lack of offensive game leaves a lot to be desired from him on the court.

Many would say that Dion Waiters should move into the starting lineup but that would do the Thunder almost no good because he serves as their sixth man.  With his scoring firepower coming off the bench, he can lead a second unit that has, until recently, been traditionally weak.

I believe that Anthony Morrow would be the best solution at the SG position. Mostly known for his three-point shooting ability, Morrow can also get it done on the defensive end. With his 6’5 frame and 6’11 wingspan, his defensive potential could be a great asset for the Thunder. He was initially brought in as a scorer and shooter off the bench for OKC but his talents could far exceed that. 

As a scorer, he is averaging a mark of 9.3 PPG in about 23 minutes per game. He is averaging more minutes than Roberson, who routinely starts the first and third quarters and plays just about 20 minutes a game. Morrow’s scoring and shooting ability is where he really separates himself from Roberson.

Morrow is shooting 44 percent from the field, 38 percent from three-point range, and 87 percent from the free throw line, compared to Roberson’s horrific line of 46/25/45. While Roberson’s role on the team isn’t to score a lot of points, it would be nice if he could make the easy ones that he gets while he is on the floor. He’s clearly a glaring weak spot on a team that is desperately trying to hang on to the eighth seed in the Western Conference standings.

Here is a quick look at exactly what Morrow can bring to the table:

Placing Anthony Morrow in the starting lineup would give the Thunder a lot more offense while not sacrificing much defense. Roberson has the best defensive rating (which measures the number of points allowed per 100 possessions while the player is on the court) on Oklahoma City – there’s no denying what his strength is. But surprisingly, Morrow isn’t too far behind with the third best defensive rating on the team. 

Morrow also has a 13.2 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), while Roberson only rates a 9.7. Additionally, having Morrow on the floor would help OKC stretch and spread the floor considerably. With Westbrook and Durant constantly driving towards the basket and looking to kick out to a teammate, Morrow’s ability to knock down open shots would be most complementary with the Thunder’s two superstars. 

One would say that if Morrow is moved to the starting lineup then the bench rotation would be in disarray but that wouldn’t be the case. With the addition of Kyle Singler at the trade deadline, it gives the Thunder another capable offensive shooting wing that will be able to come off the bench once Durant returns from his injury. Morrow could take the place of Roberson in a slightly bigger role while Singler can take Morrow’s place on the bench rotation in a slightly reduced role compared.

The biggest drop off for the Thunder with Morrow in the starting lineup would be some rebounding that Roberson offers and a small drop off in defense. That being said, the potential positives outweigh the negatives in Roberson’s one-dimensional game.

Anthony Morrow would add length, scoring and, most importantly, a reliable outside shot. For a team that has struggled to score without Durant and Westbrook on the floor, this could be a huge boost in the team’s push for the postseason.

Next: Should Russell Westbrook Win the MVP?