Oubre's Season Highlights | Photo Gallery
Kelly Oubre Jr. entered the NBA at the age of 19 after just a year at Kansas. In limited action during his rookie season, he showed flashes of why the Wizards traded up in the first round to draft him. What became immediately apparent was that Oubre’s length, athleticism and motor alone were a great base for what Washington hoped would become a defensive stopper first and an offensive threat along the way.
This season under Scott Brooks, Oubre’s place as a rotation mainstay was solidified. He did it with a fiery intensity on defense and the boards along with increased confidence as an outside shooter, something that may not show in the season statistics but was obvious throughout the season. Now just 21 entering his third season next year, the sky remains the limit for the young wing.
In Brooks’ words, what always comes first with Oubre is his defense. With a year under his belt, Oubre improved in blocks, steals per game and +/- ratio, further blossoming into the spark plug the Wizards see him as being for the long haul. For the year, opponents’ offensive rating was just over two points lower when Oubre was on the floor.
As is often the case with a fast-paced Wizards team, Oubre’s defense meant an uptick in offense as well. He averaged a full point more in fast break scoring in 2016-17, and 25 percent of his points (up from 16.5) came on the break. As Oubre’s game continues to grow, there’s no doubt that his bread and butter will always be his ability to disrupt passing lanes and create quick offense in transition.
The other big part of Oubre’s offensive game has always figured to be his 3-point shooting. As a wing in today’s NBA, a reliable outside shot is one of the most important qualities to have. And while Oubre didn’t enter the league with a deadeye ability from beyond the arc, it’s something he works on every single day after practice. His 3-point percentage dipped a bit on the season with a fairly dramatic increase in playing time, but his month of February showed what the Wizards hope is to come when he hit two or more 3-pointers seven times.
Perhaps what’s best to remember about Oubre’s sophomore season is a stretch that came in the final 10 games of the regular season where Oubre contributed all over the floor. During that span, he averaged 11.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and near 50 percent shooting from the field while registering three multi-steal games as well. That final stretch of the season showed the best of what Oubre can bring to the table – a little bit of everything. And it didn’t go unnoticed.
“It’s been as consistent as any stretch this season that he has had,” said Brooks after an April 4 win over Charlotte. “If (Oubre) plays with his hands and plays with his length defensively, he gets to play extended minutes. It gets rewarded. He’s got a lot of opportunities to get open shots. His offense is going to continue to develop – not only this year, but for many years. But I think defensively he has to lock into doing that every night.”
Oubre’s best basketball is certainly ahead of him. And with a mentor like Brooks who sees his potential and has a positive track record of growing young players, there’s no telling exactly how high he can go in 2017-18 and beyond. What we know for sure is that there will be plenty of defensive stops and highlight-reel slams along the way.