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Thunder’s Andre Roberson hoping to be at full strength by Christmas

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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - OCTOBER 8: Andre Roberson #21 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks for a shot against Melbourne United during the first half of a NBA preseason game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on October 8, 2017 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Andre Roberson;

J Pat Carter

Why did Paul George re-sign with the Thunder after they disappointingly lost in the first round? Reportedly, in part, because he believed Andre Roberson -- who suffered a season-ending patellar-tendon injury in January -- was a huge loss. That made sense, considering Oklahoma City was really hitting its stride before Roberson went down. The elite perimeter defender fit so well on that team.

But for Roberson to make the difference, he must actually get back to full strength. When will that happen?

Roberson, via FOX 29:

I’m not really putting a particular timeline on it, but I want to come back to myself somewhere in, like, December. It would be great if it happened before Christmas. That’d be great. But, like I said, not putting a timeline on it. Just taking it a day at a time.

With Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are prioritizing the present. They’ll have a hard time winning a championship, but I really like them as a team paying to win as much as possible -- however far that takes them.

So, seeding will be very important. The Thunder would be a huge underdog to the Warriors in a playoff series. I’d also pick the Rockets and Jazz over Oklahoma City. The longer they avoid those teams, the better shape the Thunder will be in.

So, no, they absolutely shouldn’t rush back Roberson. But how soon he returns to his Defensive Player of the Year-candidate form could make a huge difference in the playoffs.