The Oklahoma City Thunder has been in the NBA’s bubble in Orlando for over a week now. Andre Roberson traveled with the team to Orlando and has been a full participant in team practices.
Roberson has missed the better part of the last two seasons rehabbing from a knee injury. Although there hasn’t been any indication that Roberson will play when the season resumes, him participating in practices is a great sign.
The question that arises is where Roberson will fit in the Thunder’s rotation?
Start or Bench?
With Roberson missing most of the past two seasons, coach Billy Donovan must decide how to integrate him back into the rotation. Before the knee injury, Roberson was the starting shooting guard for Thunder. He played well enough in that starting role to get a 3-year, $30 million contract extension from the Thunder in 2017.
Another question is can Roberson handle starters minutes after missing nearly two years of in-game action. Or does coach Donovan instead decide to bring Roberson off the bench to ease him back into game action?
Whatever Donovan decides, it will be vital to a potential Thunder playoff run. Roberson’s return could hurt the chemistry and continuity of the Thunder’s current rotation. Or the performance of Roberson’s elite perimeter defense could help the Thunder guard elite players in the Western Conference.
My prediction is that coach Donovan will bring Roberson off the bench if he returns to action. Roberson would have to replace either Danilo Gallinari or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Both Gallinari and Gilgeous-Alexander are averaging 19 points per game, which leads the Thunder. You can’t replace either one with Roberson, who has never been that lethal offensively.
Instead, you bring Roberson off the bench and pair him with Dennis Schroder. Now the Thunder would have a bench backcourt of starting-caliber guards. Schroder, who averages 19 points per game, can still lead the bench offensively, while Roberson anchors the court defensively.
Finally, if Roberson returns, the Thunder could produce a lineup that would be defensively dominant. Imagine having Chris Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Roberson all on the floor at the same time. Three elite perimeter defenders on the floor all at once. Not to mention, Steven Adams protecting the rim behind them.
Do you hope Andre Roberson returns to the Thunder in the NBA restart?
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