In January, Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson ruptured his left patellar tendon and missed the rest of the 2017-18 NBA season. Most people believed that Roberson’s absence was one of the major reasons why the Thunder suffered an early exit in the Western Conference Playoffs.
Andre Roberson is the Thunder’s best defender. Per NBA.com, when Roberson was on the floor last season, the Thunder posted a 96.4 defensive rating compared to 107.6 without him. Days before the 2018-19 NBA season starts, the Thunder could still be without the 26-year-old shooting guard.
Andre Roberson is reportedly set to be sidelined an additional two months after undergoing a procedure following a setback during his rehab from left knee surgery. The Thunder need more of Roberson, especially now that the Western Conference just got tougher with the Los Angeles Lakers’ acquisition of LeBron James. After the Thunder’s 113-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the preseason, All-Star forward Paul George was asked how Roberson’s absence will affect their performance in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season.
Even without their starting shooting guard, Paul George believes that the Thunder have “more than enough” to perform well on both ends of the floor.
“We have to go out there and work with what we got,” George told The Oklahoman (h/t OKC Thunder Wire). “I think we have more than enough for the time. Every day just staying steady and try to build habits and get better. The good thing about here is that we have principles regardless of who is out there, who is on the floor, what personnel; we have principles that we stick to. That’s all it is going to take is sticking to our principles.”
With Andre Roberson out, Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan could explore pairing Russell Westbrook with Dennis Schroder in their backcourt. The Thunder acquired Schroder in a deal to trade Carmelo Anthony to the Atlanta Hawks this offseason. Though Schroder and Westbrook are both ball-dominant players, there are some people who believe that the two can mesh well inside the court.
However, Donovan already has a different idea in mind. While waiting for Roberson to return 100 percent healthy, the Thunder are reportedly planning to use Terrance Ferguson as their temporary starting shooting guard. Donovan believes that Ferguson has already earned the right to start. Ferguson is currently entering his sophomore year. In 61 games he played with the Thunder last season, the 20-year-old shooting guard averaged 3.1 points on 41.4 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.