Andre Roberson’s worth has long been debated in Oklahoma City. Some extremists think he shouldn’t even be in the league because of his inability to shoot. The other side resents the idea that he’s not worth every penny because of what he brings on the defensive end.It’s becoming more and more obvious that the Thunder need Roberson in order to be successful. OKC has now surrendered 114 and 117 points to the Suns and the Lillard-less Trailblazers, respectively.
“But what about the big wins against the Clippers and Lakers?” Give me a break. The Lakers are barely an NBA team, and the Thunder only beat the Clippers because OKC made everything they looked at. No one played a shred of defense in that game.
Winning 127-117 (the final against LAC) isn’t sustainable.
Phoenix is 10 games below .500, and Oklahoma City allowed them to shoot 43.6 percent from beyond the arc. Portland shot 43.5 percent from distance without one of the better point guards in the league.
A small sequence in the third quarter against the Trailblazers illustrated just how much OKC misses Roberson.
The Blazers lead 66-62, which is by no means insurmountable. The Thunder proceeded to give Portland three wide-open looks from deep in the next four possessions. Al-Farouq Aminu knocked down the first two and the last was hit by CJ McCollum. It’s the NBA and guys don’t have to be named Steph Curry to knock down shots when they’re wide open. Often it looks like the Thunder are just hoping guys will miss wide open shots, which is a good way to let the Suns and Trailblazers run you off the floor. Andre Roberson doesn’t hope guys will miss open shots. Roberson stays in the hip pocket of shooters and makes them earn every point they put on the board.
The excuse that Roberson doesn’t bring enough on the offensive end doesn’t hold water over this recent stretch. Ferguson started in his place these last two games and managed all of two points in 48 minutes, while looking lost defensively.
The Thunder seemed to be figuring things out before Roberson’s injury. The chemistry seemed to be coming along, and they looked like a real contender in the western conference. Without Roberson, this looks like a team that needs to score 120 to win, and that’s not going to work.