Oklahoma City Thunder forward Andre Roberson, who was once lauded as one of the NBA’s best defensive players before his career was derailed by injuries, is set to make his return to the court on Friday. As relayed by ESPN‘s Royce Young via Twitter, head coach Billy Donovan has stated that Roberson will be available to play without restriction when his team goes up against the Boston Celtics for its first of three scrimmage games.
Roberson hasn’t appeared in an official game since January 27, 2018, when he ruptured his left patellar tendon in a game against the Detroit Pistons. Since that time, he has suffered through a lengthy rehab process and multiple setbacks, including an avulsion fracture in his knee.
For a feature on his comeback for ESPN, the 28-year-old Roberson told Young that the two-plus year journey from his initial injury to his return at the league’s Orlando, Florida, bubble environment has been an emotional one.
“Basically a big roller coaster of emotions,” he said of the process. “Just being so close, and then something else would happen. Setback after setback. I don’t know man, it was just tough….[There were] definitely a lot of times I was ready to give up.”
Roberson returns to an organization that has changed dramatically since he last took the court. While Donovan remains at the helm, gone are former MVP Russell Westbrook and multiple-time All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. In their place, the current iteration of the Thunder is led by the up-and-coming Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dennis Schroder and veterans Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari.
And while the team has surprised this season — compiling a 40-24 record before the NBA suspending play in March in the wake of its first positive COVID-19 test by a player — a healthy Roberson could help Oklahoma City further defy expectations.
In terms of defensive efficiency, the Thunder currently rank eighth league-wide with a D-rating of 108.4. If he can play at his previous level, Roberson could make OKC even more formidable on that side of the ball. During the 2017-18 season, Oklahoma City conceded just 97.3 points per 100 possessions when Roberson was on the court.
Additionally, he has posted a positive defensive box plus/minus score in every year of his NBA career.
As shared previously by The Inquisitr, Roberson isn’t the only player returning from injury. Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo has also joined his team in Orlando and even played in the Pacers’ first scrimmage. However, it has not yet been determined whether he’ll continue to see action once seeding games begin on July 30.