Point: Andre Roberson is the perfect match for OKC’s starting lineup
By Hayden Bonine
What do the “superteams” of the last 10 years have in common? The ’08 Celtics, ’12 Heat and ’16 Warriors have all had a starting lineup containing three scorers, an interior defender and an exterior defender. Whether it was Kendrick Perkins coupled with Rajon Rondo/Tony Allen, Udonis Haslem/Chris Andersen with Shane Battier or Zaza Pachulia/Andrew Bogut with Draymond Green, the best teams in recent memory have had a trio of scorers and a pair of quality defenders. This year’s Oklahoma City Thunder team should be no different.
Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony will score, meanwhile Steven Adams and Andre Roberson defend. Westbrook and Anthony have been heavily criticized for their lack of defensive effort, but Roberson solves that problem. Roberson is one of the best defenders in the NBA. His versatility is nearly unmatched among the league’s defenders. Roberson can defend guards and forwards. The NBA is centered around pick and roll offense. Roberson and Adams are two of the best pick and roll defenders in the league. They must be paired together in the starting lineup.
A game-changing defender such as Roberson is nearly no good on the bench. He needs to be utilized on the opponents’ best players, not on their backups. On this team, Roberson’s role is clearly defined: play defense and stay out of the way on offense. Roberson’s lack of offensive prowess is easily overlooked when compared with his defensive impact. He deserves a spot in the Thunder’s starting lineup.
Counterpoint: Roberson Has Become a Liability for the Oklahoma City Thunder
By Joseph Fazio
“The shooting guard (or 2 guard) is best known as being the team’s sharpshooter,” according to USA Basketball. But Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson entitles the exact opposite of what USA Basketball deems the ideal shooting guard. Last season for the Thunder, Roberson ranked 56th in points per game among shooting guards. Some not so notable players that averaged more points than Roberson were Ian Clark of the Golden State Warriors, Troy Daniels of the Memphis Grizzlies and Norman Powell of the Toronto Raptors. All three players averaged below 20 minutes of playing time per game compared to Roberson’s 30 minutes.
Roberson is also a huge liability when it comes to shooting free throws. Roberson went 47 for 114 (42.3 percent made) at the foul line. Even Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan was able to shoot better, making 48.2 percent of his foul shots.
Most fans say that his defense makes up for his offense, but that can only go so far. Roberson did average one block a game, which was best among shooting guards last year. But Roberson always seems to try and do to many things at once which can become a hassle for the rest of the team.
The most ideal lineup the Thunder could make this season would be to take Roberson off the starting lineup. Then move up Paul George to the shooting guard where he can be Russell Westbrook’s first target. As well as moving up Carmelo Anthony to his true position at small forward. Anthony can’t play the same type of shooting forward that players like Cleveland’s Kevin Love or New York’s Kristaps Porzingis can play. The best player to put at power forward would be Patrick Patterson. Patterson averaged almost as many points as Roberson last season. Plus, the same amount of assists and more rebounds per 48 minutes played. Coach Billy Donovan seems to be hooked on Roberson as his starting two guard, but he may need to realize the liability Roberson creates.