Despite their slow start, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been on a roll in January. On Saturday, they beat the Detroit Pistons handily, bringing their winning streak to seven. The victory came with at a steep price, however: the loss of starting shooting guard Andre Roberson.
Andre Roberson Out For Remainder of Season
During the third quarter of Saturday’s game, Roberson jumped for an alley-oop and slipped, his left knee buckling awkwardly as he fell. He was unable to walk off the court, and teammates sat with him while his leg was wrapped. Roberson was carried off the court on a stretcher, obviously in severe pain.
In a press release on Sunday morning, the Thunder announced that Roberson suffered a ruptured left patellar tendon. He will require season-ending surgery to repair the damage to his left knee.
Micheal Rothstein of ESPN notes that prior to Saturday, Roberson missed eight games this year due to patellar tendonitis in the same knee.
This season, Roberson averaged about five points, five rebounds, and one assist per game. He had career-highs in field goal percentage, at 53.7 percent, and box plus-minus, at 1.7.
Impact on the Thunder
The Thunder began this year with many losses and inefficient gameplay. The off-season acquisitions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony created a new dynamic for the team, and it took Oklahoma City nearly two months to figure it out. Eventually, the Thunder learned how to work with their new pieces, and they’re now the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
Though Roberson has never been especially proficient on the offensive end, he is a stellar defensive player. He is a big reason why the Thunder are currently fifth in the league in defensive rating. As Erik Horne of The Oklahoman points out, with Roberson on the floor, the Thunder hold opponents to 96.4 points per 100 possessions this season. Without him, they allow 108.3.
This kind of significant loss could be detrimental to a franchise that is just starting to figure out its new identity. Now, the possibility of catching the fourth seed Minnesota Timberwolves looks slim. Fortunately, the Thunder are 1.5 games ahead of the sixth seed New Orleans Pelicans, who are dealing with their own injuries. It is likely that the Thunder will maintain their spot in the Western Conference.
Terrance Ferguson started in place of Roberson when he missed time earlier this year. Look for the rookie to join the starting lineup again.
BARCELONA, SPAIN – OCTOBER 05: Head coach Billy Donovan of Oklahoma City Thunder gives instructions to Andre Roberson of Oklahoma City Thunder during the NBA Global Games Spain 2016 match between FC Barcelona Lassa and Oklahoma City Thunder at Palau Sant Jordi on October 5, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)