It’s a good thing Raptors 905 have shown they can win without their best player in recent games, because they’ll have to do it for at least the next two weeks.
Ronald Roberts will remained sidelined for at least that amount of time, as he’s dealing with a right pattelar tendon strain. The patellar tendon is the tendon right beneath the knee cap, and a strain of the tendon is a pretty common injury for runners or due to overuse in general. Catching it at the point of just a strain rather than tendinitis is a bonus, but it’s still a disappointing turn for Roberts, who’s suffered from a great deal of bad luck this season.
He missed the team’s first five games due to an ankle sprain, missed a game earlier in the season with a knee flare up, and was recently shelved with a hip contusion. He’s played just eight minutes over the 905’s last five games, including Saturday, and he played sparingly in last Saturday’s All-Star Game in part due to a jammed thumb.
When he’s been on the floor, he’s been terrific, which makes the timing of the injury all the more frustrating. It’s officially D-League call-up season in the NBA, and while few teams have seen fit to tap any power forwards from the D-League so far, a healthy Roberts would be at the top of the list if someone needed one. Not only did he earn All-Star honors, but at one point he ranked as the No. 1 prospect on the D-League’s own player rankings, a well-deserved nod.
In 24 games, Roberts is averaging 18.1 points on 61.7-percent shooting, while adding 12.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.5 blocks. It’s his second consecutive season dominating the paint in the D-League, as he averaged 17.5 points and 11.9 rebounds a season ago, too. The lack of a call-up is astonishing, given his production, and it’s not based solely on athleticism, either. While the 6-foot-8 Roberts is an obscene athlete, he’s also greatly improved his footwork and patience in the post, has made strides as a passer, and extended his range out close to the 3-point line (he even hit a corner three in the All-Star Game). He’s also a steady defender in a man-to-man or help scenario, and now that Alex Stephenson has earned a call-up from the Los Angeles Clippers, no D-Leaguer boasts a better rebounding resume.
By this point last year, Roberts had opted to head overseas for the remainder of the season instead of sticking close to the NBA. It will be interesting to see if he makes a similar decision this season once March 1 rolls around. That’s the date by which players have to be waived to be playoff eligible at the NBA level, and it’s the date at which Roberts will have a better idea of his chances for a call-up down the stretch.
He’ll miss at least four more games if the two-week timeline is accurate, a tough break for the surging 905. They’ve managed to play well in his absence, but on the season they outscore opponents by 20.1 points per-100 possessions with Roberts on the floor, a far cry from their minus-1 PPC mark overall.