Giving the Thunder confidence in Roberson is its 12-4 record in his 16 games as a starter last season. But that’s only the beginning. Oklahoma City allowed a staggering 80.3 points per 100 possessions with Roberson and rookie center Steven Adams in the starting lineup. They outscored opponents by 28.5 points per 100 possessions.
Of course, Roberson has one huge drawback.
His lack of offense.
Through two games at the Orlando Pro Summer League, Roberson has scored 17 points on 7-for-18 shooting. He’s 1-for-4 from 3-point range.
After seeing how Sefolosha struggled to score, the last thing most Thunder fans want to see is another offensively-challenged player in the starting lineup. For as much pressure as that person takes from Durant and Westbrook on defense he adds as much if not more on offense.
Roberson’s challenge would be to figure out how to play to his strengths (defense and rebounding) while limiting his weaknesses (shooting).
The Thunder sees Roberson as a Tony Allen type of scorer. Allen has averaged between 8.9 points and 9.8 points in each of the past four seasons and hasn’t shot less than 44.5 percent over that span. He became an X-factor against the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs this year, remember, simply by scoring in transition, cutting for layups and generating hustle points.
All those are things Roberson is good at, things he’s showing down here in Orlando.
“Andre has very good tools,” said Thunder assistant and summer league coach Darko Rajakovic, who as coach of the Tulsa 66ers watched Roberson average 16 points on 51.6 percent shooting in 17 D-League games last season. “First of all, he’s a very good defensive player. That gives him the opportunity to put his hands on the ball to get steals and be a good finisher in transition. Also in transition, he’s finding other people…And offensively, he’s very good out of cuts, attacking the rim. He can attack the rim putting the ball on the floor with one and two dribbles.”
Roberson continues to prove this week that he’s a hard worker and an eager learner.
But is he really ready for this?
As the summer snakes on, he might have to be.
“Experience is a big key in this league,” he said. “And I’m willing to put in the time and get better.”