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Huskers In The NBA: Early Season Check-In

Well, okay, so it’s more like “Husker in the NBA” at this point, but Roby is making some big waves.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

With the ongoing shutdown among the Nebraska Cornhuskers program right now, it is the perfect time to check in on former Huskers in the NBA. Rather, former Husker at present, but Isaiah Roby is making quite the splash this season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Want some evidence? How about this retweet by his former Nebraska teammate:

The 22-year-old former Husker was initially drafted by the Dallas Mavericks after he left with a season of eligibility remaining. Roby set a then NBA record for receiving the highest guaranteed contract of a second round draft pick ever.

However, Roby primarily was sent to play for Dallas’ G-League affiliate until he was later traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. At the time of his trade he had played just 11 minutes in three total NBA games for Dallas under his two-way deal and was injured and unable to see action for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. Roby had surgery for a right platar fascia and spent the summer in rehab recovering.

Fast forward to this season, and Roby is coming on strong for the Thunder. He drew high praise from the Thunder staff. Head coach Mark Daigneault said Roby came into fall camp like a different player. Clearly that showed as he got his number called to start in the team’s opening preseason game, a 121-108 win on the road over the San Antonio Spurs.

Currently Roby returned to the bench last night following his six game stretch as a starter while Al Hordord was out with an injury. During that stretch, Roby averaged 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 26.2 minutes per game.

Before moving into the starting role, Roby was averaging 6.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.5 steals in 15.0 minutes per game. He was shooting the ball well, too, going 56.5 percent from the floor and 40.0 percent from behind the three point line, though his free throw percentage wasn’t dropping any jaws at just 67.7 percent. As a starter, though, Roby went went 14-16 from the line, good for 87.5 percent.

In last night’s game, Roby saw just 10 minutes of action but managed four points on 100 percent shooting from the field and had one board.

However, it isn’t just on the offensive end that Roby is impressing. On the defensive end the 6-foot-7 forward is also proving capable of reading the floor well against bigger and more veteran players. Just watch this clip of Roby making the steal and setting his team up for an easy fast break dunk:

Roby went on to finish the game against the Nuggets with four steals. Fellow Thunder teammate Mike Muscala, who at times goes against Roby in practice, offered the following praise of his teammates in remarks to media:

I think he’s a good defender . . . He’s a great athlete. He’s versatile for sure.

Of course, Roby is still young in the league and has a lot of growth and learning to do. However, he seems eager to improve and continue to impress. Head coach Daigneault observed as much when he offered the following on Roby:

Isaiah has a baseline talent, there’s a lot of different things he can do — he’s versatile, he’s got a great athletic profile — but the thing that’s most encouraging about him is he’s highly professional, he’s extremely reliable, and in our feedback loop, he prepares hard. He tries to learn from everything — his success, his failures — and he’s ruthlessly consistent with that.

That’s all for now on the former Husker, but we will be sure to check back in on him later this season.