By Panos Katsiroumpas/ email@example.com
A playmaker who has “served” in Europe before joining the NBA, playing in Bamberg for three years with Kyle Hines as his teammate.
The truth is that, based on the players they approached, Olympiacos didn’t have a specific image of a player in mind. They were looking at guards with different features. Now, with the acquisition of Roberts, but also Strelnieks earlier, it becomes clear that the team from Piraeus is changing its philosophy a bit in regards to their famed backcourt.
With the roster being formed, it becomes apparent that Olympiacos wants to establish more sources of creation, but also of execution, in their game, taking the risk, however, of dropping the levels of size and athleticism quite a bit.
Roberts is a player who can contribute both in creation and execution, but he has a lightweight body and can be targeted very easily in switching defenses. Before we look at the player in more detail, let’s take a look at his resume.
Who he is
The American guard was born in 1985 in Ohio, were he made his first steps in basketball. He spent four years at the University of Dayton, which has a well known basketball program with a regular presence in the final phases of March Madness.
He made a name for himself mostly as a scorer and NBA teams were keeping an eye on him as one. He wasn’t selected by any teams in the 2008 draft, and as a result he turned to Europe to find the next destination of his career.
After a brief stint in Israel, he was transferred to Bamberg, a team that had already by then developed an excellent scouting system, finding “jackpot” players in various parts of Europe.
Roberts had excellent seasons in Germany and won three championships in a row with his team. At the same time, most years he was in the Summer League, trying to find a place in the NBA, something he managed in 2012 as he signed with the New Orleans Hornets.
He stayed in New Orleans for two years, playing pretty well and having found his role in the team. The 2013-2014 season was his best, both in terms of playing time, but also in terms of his scoring average, as he had almost 10 points in a little less than 25 minutes per game.
From New Orleans he went to Charlotte, where he kept getting playing time, but year after year that was reduced, as was his role in the teams he was selected. He also passed through Portland, while last season he played in Charlotte again.
Since Sunday afternoon, he’s officially part of Olympiacos’s roster and this will be the third team he plays for in Europe, after Hapoel Galil Gilboa and Bamberg.
Roberts is a player who really likes to move behind screens and this will greatly help him to readjust to European basketball, and it’s also a great weapon in his offensive arsenal.
He’s not the player who will go to one-on-one situations a lot, unless he sees that he has the room and the time to attack. He likes playing behind screens, he is patient with the ball on the floor and he looks for the best solution. His favorite shot is from mid-range, especially when moving to the right. This kind of shot is a very big advantage in European basketball, since it’s a shot that every defense has trouble dealing with. This will quite possibly be Roberts’ biggest weapon in Olympiacos.
This, of course, is not the only way he can score, since he can threaten with a floater in mid-range threat situations, while if he comes across a switching defense, he won’t hesitate to attack the paint.
He’s not the most explosive guard, but he knows how to read the game, and this can be seen from the way he moves with the ball after the screen in a pick-and-roll situation.
He has patience with the ball in his hands, he’s not afraid of holding on to it for as long as necessary, just as long as he finds the right choice, whether that is to shoot under good conditions for himself, or a pass that can create open shots for his teammates.
Catch and shoot
Another good offensive element that he possesses is the direct and easy execution in catch-and-shoot situations. He doesn’t have the qualities of, say, Carroll, to move a lot behind consecutive screens, but in some more direct flare screens that create the minimum time for execution, he can get the ball and shoot.
He can also execute as a spot shooter. He’s not a killer, but he’s a player whom you definitely cannot afford to leave completely open. Besides, we shouldn’t forget that, in the NBA, he had a career average of around 35% from outside the three-point line.
The question mark
The biggest question is how the coaching staff will use him in defense and, more generally, what kind of defenses Olympiacos will choose to play this season. Roberts is very light, without long arms, and in switching defenses he can be targeted by opponents. Olympiacos’s defense along the perimeter, in general, seems to be less strong compared to any other year, both in terms of pressing on the ball and in terms of size.
Individually, Roberts as a defender is average. He will be exposed mainly by his size and not by the attitude he will show. The only thing that is certain is that, with his acquisition, Olympiacos’s philosophy regarding their perimeter seems to be changing. Now, there are more poles for creating and executing, but at the same time, the defense is worse, the bodies are smaller and the degree of toughness is lower. Where this will lead, we’ll see on the court.