Knowing how to take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you is what professional basketball is all about, and Brian Roberts did exactly that this week in Orlando. With his teammate Ty Lawson deciding to shut it down after just one game, Roberts stepped up to the plate and delivered in a big way, showing more versatility as a player than he may have been able to at Dayton.
Roberts is a slender point guard whose main calling card has always been his perimeter shot. He has beautiful mechanics and range that extends well beyond the 3-point line, allowing him to shoot a stellar 45.5% from that range in college on six and a half attempts per game. He looked excellent in the drills and hit a high percentage of the shots he took in the actual games, particularly with his picture perfect pull-up jumper from mid-range.
He was able to show off ball-skills in Orlando too, though, displaying a good feel for the game and a knack for pushing the ball up the floor and playing at different speeds. He is excellent on the pick and roll and makes good decisions with the ball in his hands, even if he clearly isnt what you would call a pure point guard. He executes well offensively and is clearly not a selfish player, but doesnt have incredible vision or playmaking instincts. He played very aggressive basketball, though, not hesitating in anything he did and showing a great deal of confidence in his offensive abilities, which helped make a lot of good things happen for his team. At times he lacked the strength or explosiveness to get all the way to the rim or finish strong in traffic, but he seemed to know his limitations and did not turn the ball over at all, posting a solid 15/5 assist to turnover ratio in the three games.
Watching his film from college, its hard not to be shocked at how heavily his team relied on him to handle the ball and create offense for them virtually all game long. Roberts seemed to enjoy the freedom he had here, which partially explains why he was so effective.
Defensively, Roberts is just average at best, as he often lacks the strength to fight through screens defending the pick and roll. This clearly wasnt something he was asked to do a great deal of in college, but it will be very important for him at the next level.
Roberts is drawing a lot of Daniel Gibson comparisons these days, as both are slender, smooth 6-2 combo guards with great intangibles and phenomenal perimeter shooting skills. Roberts is a better ball-handler than Gibson, but is not quite as good a defender, though. Like Gibson, he will have to find the absolute ideal situation (likely playing next to a big point guard) to make and stick in the NBA. If he doesnt find that, he will have a great career in Europe, where he can play a Louis Bullock-type role at a very high level as he continues to develop.