When it comes down to the box score, Andre Roberson had a rather unassuming game against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night. 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steals aren't anything to write home about. But don't let that stat line fool you. Andre Roberson was a key catalyst behind the Thunder's 117-93 victory.
Heading into the second half, the Thunder were up by 8. By the time Andre Roberson checked out nine minutes later, the Thunder were up by 15. It was arguably the time when the tide turned in this game, and Roberson's presence on the floor was no fluke. During those nine minutes, Roberson had 8 points and played a major role in four defensive stops. When you consider that the Thunder had a 7 point run, it becomes obvious that Roberson was the main catalyst.
Roberson's offense during the run is easy enough to figure out. Most of the points were pretty pedestrian, coming off of a corner three and a couple of transition opportunities. But Roberson's last basket was truly special. After driving off the baseline and stepping into contact, Roberson pulled up for a beautiful hanging fadeaway shot. Feast your eyes:
If Roberson can hit any sort of fadeaway on a regular basis, that can only be a good thing. I know the Nuggets aren't the best defenders in the world, but this is an advanced shot. And anything that makes Dre a threat when he drives from the three point line should be encouraged.
Anyway, let's cover the four plays that Roberson was able to break up on defense.
Defensive Stop 1
This was an impressive and aggressive move. In the middle of a Gary Harris drive, Andre Roberson slaps the ball away and gains possession. The steal resulted in a Westbrook dunk.
Defensive Stop 2
Just some great reaction time and awareness here. As Gallinari swooped across the lane, Andre Roberson shoved Kenneth Faried. This got Faried out of passing position, forcing Gallinari to kick out to the three.
But Andre was too quick for that. Before Harris could complete his attempt, Roberson was already affecting the shot. The Nuggets recovered the offensive rebound on the shot, but Roberson saved the day again.
That's right, Roberson just straight up grabbed the dribble and forced a jump ball. The result of the jump ball was a Westbrook dunk.
Defensive Stop 3
This time, we see Roberson recover from a screen by Kenneth Faried. The above image captures Roberson at his farthest point, as he's lost the defensive advantage to Harris.
But to heck with advantages and disadvantages. Roberson negates them. The shot was contested, and missed.
Defensive Stop 4
This is another great battle over a screen. Despite being switched onto the much quicker Jameer Nelson, Roberson is undaunted by this screen. Roberson also appropriately goes over the screen, taking away Nelson's deadly three point shot.
Just some amazing lateral quickness on display here. Nelson is charging the rim at full speed and has turned a corner, but Roberson is side-stepping with him the whole way.
Andre Roberson has his bad moments. In fact, during the first five minutes of the first quarter, Roberson wasted five offensive possessions. There's clearly a limit to what Roberson can do on that end, so any production is really a bonus. But Roberson's true value comes from the possessions that Roberson creates on defense. Some of Roberson's stops lead to fast breaks and others don't, but all of them came during a critical portion of the game.
As long as Roberson continues to produce when it matters, coaches will continue to start him. And fans who only look at the box score and highlights will be continually puzzled as to why.