On July 5, 2022, the San Antonio Spurs claimed 24-year-old Isaiah Roby off of waivers from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder fans were stunned since Roby had a career season in 2021-22.
Sports Illustrated called San Antonio claiming Roby “one of the more under-the-radar pickups of the offseason”. With the Spurs in rebuild mode, he is going to be a valuable player for the team. For the fans unfamiliar with what Roby brings to the table, let’s examine his skill sets and progression as he enters his fourth year in the NBA.
Isaiah Roby Adds Depth In The Paint
Roby is a power forward who can also play as a center, and he has the ability to spread the floor by scoring from anywhere on the court. The starting power forward for the Spurs is expected to be Jeremy Sochan, but nothing is set in stone. Both Roby and Sochan can guard all five positions, but where they differ is scoring ability. Roby has a clear advantage over Sochan when it comes to the offensive end of the floor.
Sochan may be the offensive rebounding specialist on San Anotonio’s roster. If Roby is on the floor with him, however, you could expect to see even more second-chance shots. That carries over to the defensive end too where you could also expect to see fewer second-chance shot attempts for Spurs’ opponents.
At center, it’s hard to imagine Jakob Poeltl will finish the season in a Spurs uniform. When he inevitably leaves the team, there will be a whole to fill in the starting rotation. Roby and Zach Collins could easily share center responsibilities until a clear starter emerges. With Roby’s versatility and ability to guard anyone, however, he has the potential to lock up the role.
Isaiah Roby is A Complete Offensive Big
Roby has the ability to put up big numbers when given the chance. In March last season, he led the Thunder with 30 points to defeat the Portland Trailblazers in overtime, shooting 85% from the floor.While performances like that may be the exception instead of the rule, it’s good to know he has it in him.
Roby is consistently proficient on offense and showing improvement. Last season he shot 51.4% from the field which is three-percent higher than the previous year. Roby also shot 44.4% from the three-point line which is always a welcome addition in today’s NBA. Averaging 4.8 rebounds a game might not get you trending on Twitter, but it will help your team win the game.
Isaiah Roby is A Culture Fit For The Spurs
While with the Thunder, the team did a profile on Roby. He’s portrayed has a smart player with strong work ethic and a desire to be great, and his results speak for themselves. The Spurs organization must be excited to have Roby onboard.
Drafting Sochan and claiming Roby signals that the Spurs are trying to refocus the team on strong defense during their rebuild. With some development, there’s room for Roby to become a better lockdown up defender than he already is. He seems like the type of player that the Spurs would hold onto long-term. While every team that’s rebuilding will be gunning for Victor Wembanyama in next year’s draft, the Spurs have to operate like it’s not going to happen.
With a lot of young developing talent on the roster, fans may see a few seasons with no clear starter at center. The Spurs may try rotating Collins and Roby, sometimes adding Gorgui Dieng in the mix. With all of the positives that Roby brings to the court, Spurs fans should expect him to find a prominent spot in the Spurs rotation, maybe even a spot on the starting lineup.
I don’t see a downside to picking up Roby. I think it’ll be one of the reasons the Spurs will surprise everyone with their play this year. If the team is allowed to play to their potential easy 36+ win this coming year. I think the Spurs rid themselves of any character issues with the latest trade (DJM). Lonnie will play better now that he’s on a different team. He’s not going to be looked at that much so he has no pressure on him. Derrick is doing what Derrick does, play hard and be a good team mate.