The Thunder entered the 2013 NBA draft with 2 first round picks - the 12th pick, where they took Steven Adams, and the 29th pick. In a strange bit of maneuvering which will hopefully be explained in due course, the Thunder traded up to the 26th spot in order to draft Colorado forward Andre Roberson.
The all-knowing Woj explains the trade (sort of):
Golden State made a deal with Minnesota for the 26th pick, and then made a deal with OKC to trade 26 for 29. Or something.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 28, 2013
In any event, the Thunder end up with Roberson, a guy that they apparently must have targeted in order to jump over the Spurs and Nuggets to get him, as Royce Young at Daily Thunder speculates. The Spurs, in case you were wondering, drafted another French guy. Shocking, I know.
The surprise is that Roberson was not expected to go in the first round. The Oklahoman's Anthony Slater writes:
Wow. Seems strange to trade up for a guy who was projected to go in the 30-40 range.
We can only imagine what Presti saw in Roberson, since he's positionally a power forward but at 6'7 and weighing 206 lbs, he's got barely enough bulk to fit at the shooting guard spot. In his junior year at Colorado, Roberson averaged 10.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.2 steals, and shot 48% from the floor.
Rob Mahoney at Sports Illustrated writes:
Roberson is a bit too small to be a traditional big and a bit too lacking as a shooter to be a traditional wing, but should be a nice experiment for the Thunder. He's likely a more natural big at the NBA level, if only because it makes better use of his two most convincing basketball skills at this point: rebounding and defensive flexibility. Size and a limited offensive game had Roberson projected as a second-rounder, but Oklahoma City has enough scoring to make up for Roberson's slim (though growing) scoring game while making effective use of his activity on the boards and instincts elsewhere on the floor.
Roberson does appear to have some skill on the defensive end and on the glass, as SB Nation writes:
He excels on the glass, particularly on the defensive side - he was No. 2 in the country in defensive rebounding percentage as a sophomore in 2011-12, and No. 8 in 2012-13.
In his three seasons at Colorado, he showed consistent improvement in his offensive game, but he'll have to continue to improve it as a 6'7 wing in the NBA. There is little question, however, that he's ready on the other end of the floor. He forfeited his eligibility at Colorado just 10 rebounds shy of the the school's all-time record, and he led the Buffaloes in rebounds, blocks and steals in all three of his seasons.
It is most likely that Roberson is going to be a guy who spends a good amount of his time in the D-League, playing for the Tulsa 66ers. What is his ceiling? It is difficult to say at this point, since his talents are mostly duplications of guys like Daniel Orton and DeAndre Liggins, two guys who are cheaper than Roberson. Also, at Roberson's size and skillset, he doesn't seem to possess the offensive ability that OKC needs to spell Kevin Durant fot 10 minutes per game.
This pick is a puzzler, so the best we can do now is speculate that either OKC saw something in him that others did not, or that they were trying to keep him away from another rival that did.
As for this tweet:
Andre Roberson is the shocker of the draft thus far in the first round.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) June 28, 2013
Brother, if Andre Roberson was your 'shocker' of THIS draft's first round, then you haven't really been paying attention. I think Nerlens Noel agrees.