Before Ronald Roberts injured his quadriceps in the 76ers' third preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the St. Joseph's product was looking like a lock to make the roster. Coach Brett Brown has even associated him with a player like Kenneth Faried. The praise was well earned, though, with Roberts establishing himself as a glue guy that will do everything that doesn't appear in the box score.
The quadriceps injury has been lingering and Roberts has missed the 76ers' past four preseason games. It's an unfortunate situation, especially for a guy that is from Bayonne, New Jersey. However, that's the reality of the NBA. If you aren't healthy to play after being an undrafted free agent, then a team -- especially one that needs bodies like Philly -- cannot hold a roster spot. With just one more preseason game left, it seems Ronald Roberts is destined for the Delaware 87ers.
On one side, it's a shame for Roberts, who left his French team, Chalon, to come to camp with the 76ers. However, without risk, there is hardly ever a reward. Even if Roberts doesn't make the team, he's established himself as a name that the coaches in Philadelphia are aware of. He may have to grind in the D-League for some months, but Philadelphia's thin front court could lead to Roberts getting his first real crack at his NBA dreams. Let's breakdown Roberts' game and how he can establish himself in the NBA:
The 6'8" forward played for the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Summer League, averaging 10 points and 6.8 rebounds on 64.1 percent shooting from the field. An analysis of Roberts from an LA Clippers workout this summer explains his game to a tee (via DraftExpress.com):
Roberts proved to be the best athlete at the workout, and possibly one of the best athletes in the entire draft, finishing a monster dunk after ripping baseline from the short corner. Roberts missed what would have been two more monster dunks, which is why he finished the game at 2-for-7 from the field. He missed both of his mid-range jumpers as he shoots the ball very flat. Roberts also didn't show anything with his back to the basket, as he was called for an offensive foul after falling to do anything with the ball on the block. Roberts has potential, however, due to his freakish athleticism and nice frame. He's another player a few NBA teams would like to get on their D-League team to see if they can develop his skill-level a bit and improve his rebounding technique.
There is much to desire from Roberts on the offensive end, but NBA teams shouldn't be looking for Roberts as a scoring option. He's much more comfortable filling in a Thaddeus Young like role that made Young one of the prized member of the 76ers for years. Don't look for him to hit jumpers, he'll get his points on quick cuts to the bucket and offensive rebounds. His 46" vertical jump leaves him as a prime candidate to clean up the boards, even if he's undersized at the power forward position at 6'8".
The freak athlete is still raw and has plenty of things to polish before he's really ready for the NBA. While it would have been a feel good story for the hometown kid to catch on with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Delaware 87ers seems like more of a realistic option at this juncture. Roberts has to get healthy and once that happens, he should make it clear why he deserves a call-up from the 76ers.