Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre has been a bench player the past two years, but his potential breakout could be one of the keys to success this year.
Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre has spent a fair amount of time on the bench since being drafted. The team has slowly eased him into the NBA, gradually expanding his role. He’s got talent, there’s no doubt about that, there’s a reason he got drafted as the 15th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
But this year, Oubre’s role will be expanded even more, spending most of the time starting in place of the injured Markieff Morris. And even when Morris is back, Oubre could be a key sixth man for the Washington Wizards, giving them the ability to rest Morris or Otto Porter without worrying about losing a lead.
Depth has been a major issue for the Wizards. Their starting five is solid, their backcourt is amongst the best in basketball, but they haven’t really had much of a bench. It’s changed a bit since this past offseason, for the better, with the signings of Jodie Meeks and Mike Scott and the trade for Tim Frazier. That should help, but if Oubre can take a major step forward, it could help even more.
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He started off strong in the team’s opening game against the Philadelphia 76ers, ending the game with 14 points and eight rebounds, but was a bit quieter in their game against the Detroit Pistons, ending the game with just four points and seven rebounds.
Oubre is not lacking on talent, he’s long, with a 7’0″ wingspan, and he’s quick, making him a difficult person to go up against when he’s covering you on defense.
He’s also well-rounded on offense. He’s got a beautiful, smooth jumpshot that he uses to hit threes well, something that’s been improving lately.
But he’s not just an outside shooter. Oubre can drive the basket too, as you can see here in the game against the 76ers:
And if you really want to see why Oubre was a first-round pick coming out of the University of Kansas and just how incredibly athletic he is, look no further than this putback dunk against the 76ers:
Not to mention this powerful breakaway dunk during the Wizards game against the Pistons. Not only is Oubre able to snag an inbounds pass on a great steal, but he throws it down hard once he gets to the basket.
Scott Brooks likes to give his starters a lot of minutes, and while Oubre is starting this year, he’s going to get a lot of work. He needs to take a big step forward this season, and I think that could definitely happen.
Sure, Oubre’s had some maturity issues in the past, look no further than his fight with Kelly Olynyk in Game 3 of the second-round of the NBA Playoffs, but he’s also just 21-years-old, almost 22, and that maturity will come with time.
If Oubre is able to take the major step forward that he needs to take this season, the one that I think he’s entirely capable of making, then he could become a major player for the Washington Wizards.
On those days that Markieff Morris is struggling, for example, when his inconsistency is flashing and he’s having a bad game, Oubre can step in and take his place, giving the Wizards depth that they desperately need.
The team picked up his fourth-year option on his rookie contract, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post, which is worth $3.2 million, and if he wants a big extension, this will be the season to prove he’s worth it.