In the third quarter of Saturday’s game against the Detroit Pistons, Andre Roberson went up for a lob from Russell Westbrook, failed to get completely off the ground, and came down hard on his back. It originally looked like a lower back injury but Roberson was ultimately carried off the court on a stretcher with his left leg in an air cast (a temporary inflatable cast that temporarily reduces side-to-side movement and swelling of the knee).
The play in which the injury occurred:
A report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi, and now confirmed by the Thunder medical staff, states that Roberson suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in his left leg. Roberson had missed eight games earlier this season with tendinitis in the same knee.
Unfortunately, a ruptured patellar tendon is a serious, season-ending injury. The patellar tendon is located on the front of the knee just below the knee cap. Roberson will require surgery to repair the tendon, but will first require an MRI to determine the severity of the rupture. Depending on what the MRI returns, and the amount of swelling in his knee, he may undergo surgery as early as tomorrow or possibly later this week.
After surgery, it will take Roberson several months to fully recover. For about the first 12 weeks after surgery, his knee will be completely immobilized. Next, he will undergo several months of rehabilitation to regain movement in his knee and eventually progress toward running again. The entire recovery process will take upwards of six months.
Losing Roberson for the remainder of the season is a significant setback for a Thunder season that was well on its way to hitting stride. The importance of having both Roberson and Paul George’s defensive abilities on the court cannot be understated. With both Roberson and George, the Thunder had a defensive rating of 94.2. With only George, the Thunder carries a defensive rating of 111.2. OKC went 4-4 during an eight-game Roberson absence earlier in the season, surrendering a little more than 105 points per contest to opposing offenses. (Season average is 101.7 OPPG.)
For tomorrow night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, rookie Terrance Ferguson will most likely replace Roberson in the starting lineup. With the trade deadline quickly approaching on February 8, the Thunder has a small window to potentially acquire a more seasoned defensive replacement for its starting shooting guard. If not, the team will be placing full-faith in Ferguson to make up for Roberson’s absence — a scary proposition in such an important season.
Editor’s Note: Olivia Panchal is a Daily Thunder contributor and graduated with a Human Biology (Sports Performance emphasis) degree from the University of Southern California.