Oklahoma City Thunder: 3 X-Factors For This Upcoming Season


Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Thunder, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
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X-Factor #3: Is Roberson going to be the same defender when he returns?

The Oklahoma City Thunder were not the same on the money end of the floor when their defensive standout, Roberson, went down with a ruptured patellar tendon last year. Roberson has established himself as one of the elite perimeter defenders in the NBA, and despite his lack of offensive repertoire other than as a cutter, his impact on the game is massive for this team.

Recently, however, Roberson, who was likely to come back in November from his nasty injury, had a setback, per a Thunder spokesperson (h/t ESPN’s Royce Young).

Hopefully he can get back to near full health by the turn of the year. He is a player that routinely takes on the opposing best perimeter player, and between Roberson and George, OKC has two of the best all-around defenders in the NBA. Roberson is great in staying attached to ball-handlers without fouling often in pick-and-roll coverage, takes efficient angles in navigating through off-ball screens, and is always making plays on the board and in the passing lane.

This video clip displays how difficult it is for opposing scorers against a healthy Roberson.

In his career, he has averaged 4.0 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks (a high number for a perimeter defender), in 22.5 minutes per game. He also has an outstanding defensive box plus-minus mark of 2.0, per Basketball Reference.

Roberson being back healthy would be a huge boost for the Oklahoma City Thunder defense, and he would take pressure off George, and could help further Ferguson in his wing defensive development. Overall, a lineup of Westbrook-Schröder-Roberson-George-Adams (or Noel at the 5) could be a heck of a unit.

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