Thunder guard Andre Roberson enters the 2016-17 season with increased confidence after a strong playoff showing and probably with more playing time available now that Kevin Durant is in the Bay Area. He recently talked about that and other things in a conversation with HoopsHype.
You were all over the place in the summer – Taiwan, New Zealand with Steven Adams… How was that?
Andre Roberson: It was good! Finally I got the chance to see a little bit more of the world, see different cultures and it was definitely a unique experience going to New Zealand and get to meet Steven on a different level. It was overall a great summer and some great travel.
I guess it’s kind of like been with the King of New Zealand there.
AR: Actually his sister is bigger than him! It was cool to meet his family, his brothers and get to see that side of him and all the different cultural aspects. He has been hyping New Zealand up for the last couple of years, so finally I had to get over there and see what he’s talking about.
(Steven Adams interrupts: Talking about New Zealand? You’re not welcome. You’re not welcome back).
Looking back on your rookie season, how was getting to play so little early and did it affect your confidence?
AR: A little bit. But it only makes you want to work that much harder. That’s exactly what I did. I continued to trust the process. Everybody has a different path, whether is it playing a lot right away, others take a year or two or three. When you get that opportunity, you have to be ready when your name is called.
When you were told you had to play in the D-League, did you take it as a demotion?
AR: Not really, I just kind of saw it as a way to stay in shape. It was a way to get in-game action and stay fit for the game of basketball. It was definitely good.
You had this coming-out party in the playoffs last season. How much did that help your confidence?
AR: It helped out a lot. I have carried that over into my summer, helps me continue to grow and I will carry that over into this season. It’s come a lot easier to figure out the game.
Are you aware of these advanced stats where you look pretty good in the playoffs with the Thunder doing much better defensively with you on the floor? Do you pay attention to those things?
AR: I don’t really look into those, nah. I just look at wins and losses, the guy who I’m guarding, who’s hot at the moment and just figure out his weaknesses.
When opponents left you open in the playoffs, how did you take that?
AR: I find it disrespectful early on, but you know… I didn’t take it too hard. I just tried to play my game. If they leave me open, well I’m going to shoot it. That’s exactly what I did. I played the cards I was dealt. Like they said, if they give you lemons you make lemonade.
Did you think about it during the summer, like you had to work on your shot to become more of an offensive threat?
AR: Not really. I’ve been working on my shot ever since Day One, changed it up. Since I came here, they told me I had to trust the process, that it was going to be hard and I was young. I just stuck with the process all the way and it got better. I finally started to see what they were talking about. I just have to keep building confidence in that aspect.
Obviously, the big news of the summer was Kevin Durant leaving. Bad news for the franchise, but not so bad for you personally since there will be more minutes available at the wing. Good situation for you?
AR: I think you can kind of say that, but it’s a good opportunity for everybody. He played a lot of minutes and put up a lot of points on the board and now it’s an opportunity for everybody to grow and kind of expand our roles a little bit. It’s definitely going to be fun and definitely going to be a little more challenging this year. But with the group that we got and how connected we are, I think we have a good shot.
Did Russell Westbrook signing his extension help team morale?
AR: Yeah! I think so. It would have been tough for the organization otherwise. It’s great that he’s sticking around and can continue to put in hard work into the system. He believes in this organization.
Are you excited about being a free agent at the end of the season or would you rather sign an extension?
AR: At this moment, I’m not much into that. I just leave that to my agents. I’m going to play my game and live one day at a time. Priority is focusing on the team and do what I do. I’m not really worried about that aspect. If I go out there and play my game, everything is going to take care of itself.
I read your father played against Dirk Nowitzki back in the day.
AR: In the playoffs, Dirk was talking smack like, ‘Oh my, I feel old, man, I played against your dad and now with you!’ He’s just a great guy and a great competitor.
With so much of your family heavily involved in sports, was there any chance you could have done anything else outside of sports?
AR: I don’t know. I haven’t really thought of that. I chose basketball and it has worked out pretty good so far!