Russell Westbrook may be receiving the most amount of credit for the success the Oklahoma City Thunder are having this season, but some of his teammates also deserve it as they have allowed him to play at his best. Billy Donovan believes one of the unsung heroes is Andre Roberson who he thinks has played consistently, especially on the defensive end, throughout the season.
When asked to share his thoughts about the 25-year-old Colorado product’s defensive acumen, Donovan had nothing but good words for him via Michael Pina of Vice Sports. He even went as far as saying he deserves to be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
“I definitely think he should be in the [Defensive Player of the Year] conversation. It’s not like I see every player, every single game, but just being with him for 60-plus games here, and what he did last year, there’s no question he should be in the conversation. He is an incredible defender in a lot of different ways.”
The second year head coach also added that he thinks there’s nobody else in the league that has shown the same work ethic and consistency in making it difficult for great shotmakers to score during games.
“When you’re dealing with great offensive players, like the best in this league, you’re not necessarily just gonna shut guys out and prevent them from ever making a shot, because I’ve seen enough great offensive players get really hot and the defense can’t do anything about it. But I would say, in my opinion, there’s not a guy in the league that does as good of a job from a consistency standpoint, a discipline standpoint, of trying to make it as difficult as he possibly can for who he’s guarding.”
The Thunder’s stats definitely back up his claim as they allow 5.4 fewer points per 100 possessions whenever Roberson is on the court, as he is mainly tasked to defend the opposing team’s star shooting guard or small forward night in and night out.
Although the leading contenders for the DPOY are Draymond Green and Kawhi Leonard, Donovan made it clear he is not lobbying for his player to win the award, but to just get recognized as an elite defender in the league. Should the Thunder continue their stellar play this season and surprise one of the favored contenders in the West once the playoffs start, there will be no doubt Roberson will get more attention. It may also be a long shot, but he may even win it in the future if he shows this year is not a fluke and he can continue to improve his all-around game.