Thunder Basketball

Donovan non-committal on Roberson, starting lineup

Donovan non-committal on Roberson, starting lineup

ORLANDO- Andre Roberson is still the talk of Oklahoma City after day two of practices inside the NBA bubble in Orlando. 

After injuring his left patellar tendon on Jan. 27, 2018, Roberson’s return to practice has given Thunder fans renewed hope the defensive stopper can play a role in Oklahoma City’s remaining games. 

Thunder head coach Billy Donovan was not ready to make such proclamations. 

“I think we’ll have to see [if Roberson plays]. I’m encouraged with what he’s done here in the first two days,” Donovan said. 

“I’m hopeful for him because of the last two years. It’s been a long haul.”

Though the coaching staff is not ready to commit to Roberson playing, his teammates have sung his praises since Oklahoma City arrived in Orlando.

“Me growing up always being a Thunder fan, just watching [Roberson] play for so long and now to be on the court with him is really good,” guard Luguentz Dort said. 

“The fact that he’s good it’s big for the team.”

Steven Adams also said Roberson has looked good in practice, but that he was just happy to see his teammate happy to be on the court. 

“It’s always good just seeing [Roberson] in good spirits,” Adams said.

“He’s been real chipper.”

Roberson’s lockdown skillset on the defensive side of the floor could serve Oklahoma City well with how they want to play when games resume. 

“We’re just focusing mainly on defense,” Adams said.

Adams also said the opportunity to play with no fans or crowd noise could actually help the Thunder defense.

“One of the most difficult things about the playoffs is how loud it is,” he said. “You should see, theoretically, the [defensive] coverages shouldn’t be blown as much.”

Though Dort brought a defensive spark for Oklahoma City when he was inserted into the starting lineup earlier this season, he’s not a shoe-in to be in the next starting five.

“For me to sit here and say that [Dort] is starting when we get back to playing, I wouldn’t say that,” Donovan said. “I’m really trying to be open minded to let these guys play and compete and find out where they’re all at.”

“We’ve got to look at playing more people because we don’t know what the future will hold,” he said.

Donovan will have his first chance to see what his team looks like in Oklahoma City’s first scrimmage. 

The Thunder will scrimmage the Boston Celtics on July 24. Oklahoma City will have two scrimmages after the Celtics before tipping off the regular season against the Utah Jazz on Aug. 1.


Thunder Basketball

Ryan Chapman covers Oklahoma Athletics and the Oklahoma City Thunder for 107.7 The Franchise since 2019. Chapman has previously worked for OCCC's Student Newspaper, The Pioneer, where Chapman covered the Oklahoma City Energy, the Oklahoma City Dodgers, Oklahoma Athletics and the Oklahoma City Thunder. During his time with The Pioneer, Chapman served as the Sports Editor as well as the Editor-in-Chief. Chapman is the cohost of the Sideline Warning Podcast as well as the Heisman Park Rangers Podcast, which both can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud.

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