Recently, Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook presented teammate Andre Roberson with an unabashed endorsement for NBA All Defensive Team honors. When pressed by reporters, Westbrook passionately enumerated the 6’7 swingman’s abilitlies to generally frustrate the opposition’s top outside scorer.
Chief among Westbrook’s quotes commending Roberson’s lock-down tenacity include this pronouncement:
"He actually locks up and defends and people can't score. It's actually one-on-one defense. I don't care about all the defensive numbers...”
Amid the Thunder’s current four-game undefeated streak, Roberson has affirmed Russ’ bold declarations best by rebuking former scoring champion Carmelo Anthony’s Monday night efforts.
As evidenced by this chart, the NBA’s 13th all-time leader in ppg (24.9) could find no reprieve with Roberson draped to his hip.
Roberson limited Anthony to just 18 points on 4-of-19 shooting. For the season, OKC’s premiere perimeter protector has held opponents -2.2 points below their regular scoring average. While Westbrook doesn’t place much stock in “the numbers,” nevertheless, key defensive metrics support his assertion concerning Roberson’s stead atop the league’s defensive elite.
This season —of players to average 30-plus minutes— Roberson ranks 17th (100.1) overall in points allowed per 100 possessions. Furthermore, among small forwards, Andre places seventh in DRPM (1.43) —while also boasting an efficient 1.18 RPM wins.
These impressive numerical indicators go hand-in-hand with what Westbrook nightly views up close — as Westbrook explained to the Oklahoman:
“When you're on the court and you see the things he does defensively and people that actually watch the games and know what it means to actually guard somebody, then they can see what All-Defensive team is."
Indeed, Westbrook’s ardent reinforcement of Roberson’s cause is consolidated by the fact that his tenacious teammate has gained only one All-NBA Defensive Team vote (2nd team in 16’) throughout his yeoman-like professional pilgrimage. Regarding this slight, the five-time All-Star wasn’t shy in voicing his locker-room opinion:
“Yeah, like I said before, guys that they put on the defensive team they give to them before the **** season starts.”
This season, pursuant to monumental summer moves, Roberson’s role has been starkly magnified. However, in addition to his defensive exploits, the former Colorado standout has responded with career-highs in points (7.0), rebounds (4.6), assists (1.2), steals (1.3), and blocks (1.1).
All the while, triple-double king Russell Westbrook’s support for the gritty 24-year-old reverberates loudest.