By Addam Francisco
Far too many times "Andre Roberson shouldn't start," has been said or more recently a local radio personality says that he doesn't even think Roberson should be in the NBA. All of this criticism because he clearly isn't an offensive-minded player, only averaging 3.4 points per game and one assist, coming from the two guard position.
As many may know, the starting shooting guard position has been reserved for a lockdown defender ever since the Thunder moved to Oklahoma City. This is the same role that Thabo Sefolosha played for us that helped us get to the NBA Finals back in 2012. That's what people don't realize or maybe try not to realize. Not everyone on the team can average 10 or more points per game. My personal question for Andre Roberson haters is who's going to guard opposing teams best offensive guard? Russell? Durant? God forbid Serge. Yes, Serge Ibaka is a known shot blocker but how will he match the speed of players like Lebron James and James Harden? Also, many think that Dion Waiters should start in front of him, even though Waiters can offensively torch anyone on an opposing team so can Russell, KD, Serge and Enes Kanter. Thats not what we need out of every player. OKC is one of the best, or the best offensive team in the NBA.
Andre brings a tremendous upside to this team defensively. He has length at 6-foot-7 with a tremendously long wingspan, which gives him an easier opportunity to jump in passing lanes and intercept passes and also helps him block shots. He can guard from the point guard position all the way to an undersized power forward. Also, Roberson is still a VERY young player at 23 years old and only two NBA seasons under his belt. He has a lot of growing to do still and there's already been a lot of improvement offensively. He's an exceptional player around the rim, he finishes well on fast breaks, which was something he struggled with in his rookie season. He's continuously getting better.
There's no particular stat for shots he forced opponents to alter, or steals made by teammates that he created, kind of how Kendrick Perkins was to this Thunder team. In order to win a championship, he's going to have to be in the starting lineup, with Waiters being that immediate offensive spark the team will need off the bench average 12 to 15 points, just like James Harden did off the bench. Oklahoma City has the same pieces they had back in that great run in 2012 to reach the finals. The only difference is they may actually have more fire power than they did that year.
There are things Roberson has to improve on just like any other player on the team. I do think that he should average at least 8 points per game, that would help a lot and he has to shoot free throws better. It's not good to have an offensive player that can't play defense and its just as critical not to have a defensive player that can't score. Roberson isn't the best shooter and even though theres been improvement there, I think he should penetrate more to the lane because of his length and jumping ability, but once again he's just starting his third year in the NBA. There's a reason this guy was a first round draft pick and there's a reason that he was the first player in Colorado University history to lead the team in rebounding, blocks and steals for three straight seasons.
Give this guy time, he will be a premier player in this league soon enough. Sam Presti doesn't make too many mistakes.