Andre Roberson report card: All but foul shooting was promising
Andre Roberson suffered a torn patellar tendon on Jan. 27, cutting short his fifth NBA season. Here are the grades for Roberson on the 2017-18 season:
Defense: A. Roberson’s defensive prowess, well known in OKC, received a national boost in the 2017 playoffs, playing against James Harden, and Roberson was on his way to perhaps first-team all-defense this season. The Thunder defense ranked in the top five before Roberson’s injury; the starting lineup had a defensive rating of 95.9 (points per 100 possessions) with Roberson, which is world-class.
Foul shooting: F. Roberson went to the line just 38 times. He made only 12. Fourth-graders shoot better. Literally. Through three seasons, Roberson was a 56.3 percent foul shooter, which is really bad. But the last two seasons, he’s made just 59 of 149, 39.6 percent. The mental block is getting much bigger.
Offensive adjustments: A. In 39 games, Roberson took just 36 3-point shots. His 1.2 3-point shots per 36 minutes were half or less than half his attempts each of the previous three years. Roberson’s 2-point shooting percentage was a career high .627, and it’s no secret why. Roberson took a career high 71.6 percent of his shots in the restricted area. And Roberson played to his strengths, taking 35 percent of his shots in transition, where he’s at his offensive best.
Rebounding: B. Roberson arrived from the University of Colorado five years ago billed as a tremendous rebounder. We saw that early in his career, not so much lately. But Roberson was better this season. His 2.6 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes were the highest since his rookie year. It’s harder to get rebounds these days, with Steven Adams manning the middle instead of Kendrick Perkins and with Russell Westbrook on a rebounding binge. But Roberson improved. Last year, 67 percent of his rebounds were uncontested. This year, only 58.3 percent were uncontested.
Fouling: B. Roberson’s fouling frequency has stabilized – 3.1 per 36 minutes, for the third straight year, which isn’t bad considering Roberson is usually matched against the NBA’s most difficult players to cover. The 3.1 is in the range of Thabo Sefolosha’s 2.6 in six excellent defensive seasons for OKC.
Marquee games: A. Roberson’s injury caused him to miss some of the Thunder’s biggest games. Roberson played only once each against Golden State, Houston Cleveland and Toronto, while missing seven games against those teams. But Roberson was superb against those four teams, with point-differentials of plus-86 – plus-14 against both the Warriors and Rockets, plus-26 against the Raptors and plus-32 against the Cavaliers.