Practice Report: Dropping in on Dre

Paris Lawson

By Paris Lawson | Digital Content Reporter |

Knees bent with one hand on the ground, down in a sprinter’s stance as if he’s about to run a 100-meter dash, Andre Roberson bolts off the baseline in a full sprint. Without missing a stride, he catches the ball from a coach at the top of the opposite three-point line and glides toward the rim to finish a full-court layup before immediately rounding the baseline to take off to do the same on the other end.

21 months have passed since Roberson has played in a game after suffering a torn patellar tendon in January of 2018. He sat out of the four exhibition games the Thunder played this season but has been participating in practice and making significant progress toward being back out on the floor with his team. On Sunday, he participated in contact portions of practice.

Still sweating from his post-practice work, the 7th year guard made his way toward media availability to talk to press.

“It felt good,” said Roberson on how he felt in his workout. “I’m still working myself into game shape everyday just trying to chug away. Step-by-step. Day-by-day.”

“He’s been great,” said head coach Billy Donovan referencing Roberson. “In terms of doing the things that he needs to do to get himself ready, his body adjusting and acclimating to life in the NBA. It’s going to take some time for him to relearn that.”

Andre Roberson

No more training camp, no more exhibition games, the Thunder is now gearing up for regular season play where each game counts in the record books. With this switch to regular season, there is also a shift in focus. Preseason focuses largely on establishing a solid identity and building chemistry within a new team. As regular season games approach, the attention shifts from establishing an identity to ­­­establishing lineups and optimal personnel combinations.

“We looked at a lot of different things during these preseason games, which is what we wanted to do,” said head coach Billy Donovan. “We’ve done a lot of different things and now it’s just a matter of coming up with a rotation and a lineup and those kinds of things.”

“We’re still trying to figure out who works together, what guys work together, what plays work for certain guys so it’s a learning process and we know it’s not going to be perfect right away so we’ve got time and we’re willing to use it,” said Roberson.

Picking his spots in the offense, seeing what’s open, and figuring out what certain players look for have all been areas of focus for Roberson. Taking in the game from the sidelines has allowed him a different perspective on how he can fit and make an impact in the lineup.

“I’m just utilizing my time off the court, seeing where I can throw myself in there at times,” said Roberson. “It’s a good learning curve and I can’t wait to get back out there again.”

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For now, getting into game shape and checking all of the boxes in the rehab process take priority for Roberson. Taking each step so seriously in fact, that he feels better now than a year ago.

“I’m way better now than last November honestly,” said Roberson. “Mentally, physically, I gained more weight, got stronger and just learning through this whole process. My character being built. I feel like I’m better off now than I ever have. I feel great. It’s about that time, I don’t know when but we’ll see.”

When he does return, he’ll be entering into a new Thunder offense. As a veteran and with his perspective from the sidelines, Roberson shared his thoughts on the new offensive scheme:

“I think it’s going to be great for us, honestly. We’ve got a lot of guys that can score and put the ball in the hole and we’ve got to utilize that,” said Roberson. “Any given night, anybody can get hot. That’s what’s special about this team. You don’t just key in on one person anymore or two people. Anybody can go out there and get a bucket so it’s going to be interesting and keep people on their toes.”

Practice will continue for the Thunder leading into their season opener in Utah on Wednesday.

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