Washington Wizards’ Kelly Oubre Could Develop Into Core Piece, Just Like Otto Porter

Jan 21, 2017; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) claps his hands during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 21, 2017; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) claps his hands during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre has shown flashes of his potential and could develop into a core piece, just like Otto Porter did.

Kelly Oubre was largely an unknown going into his second pro season in the NBA – that is, to everyone but his teammates, who according to Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, raved about the rookie during their exit interviews.

When “we did our exit interviews, every player noted to me that he has no fear,” Leonsis said of Oubre. “He’s really hard to play against. He has really, really long arms. He’s tough to play against. The players wanted him to play more. So our coach has already recognized that and thinks that Kelly Oubre is a big asset for us.”

Still, it was hard to predict or project what Kelly Oubre Jr. would be able to give the Wizards on a nightly basis after having only logged 671 minutes as a rookie (to put that into perspective, that’s only 257 more than Tomas Satoransky has played thus far in his rookie season).

Based on the skill-set Oubre had coming out of Kansas and his player comparisons, the hope was that he would develop into a 3-and-D for Washington in his second season.

Even then, however, it was optimistic to hope that a 20-year-old at 205 pounds would be able to handle the rigors of going up against the elite level wings that the NBA presents.

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This past summer, Drew Hanlen – a noted skills trainer and founder of Pure Sweat Basketball – spoke about Oubre and his future development.

Hanlen has worked with Oubre since the predraft process and continues to work with the Wizards’ forward.

The general mantra Hanlen teaches is simple: while the long-term goals are high, “master the role that they want you to play now while working towards the role that you want to have later. You have to master the role you have now if you want a bigger role later.”

The role for Oubre was going to be defense first.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Oubre spoke about his role on the team.

“I’m an energetic player,” Oubre said. “I come in and I try to first and foremost start on the defensive end because that’s what God blessed me with, length and athletic ability, so I feel that’s kind of my calling card, coming out and trying to get stops.”

Recently, I spoke with Hanlen to get his thoughts on Oubre’s progress this season.

“Before the season, we thought he was capable of averaging 8 to 10 points on 38 percent 3-point shooting, so he’s been playing just like we thought he would in the last ten games,” Hanlen said. “Also, his defense has been really good and that’s where we knew he’d make the biggest impact. I think his presence has been a big reason why the Wizards have turned around their season.”

Defensively, Hanlen has been pleased with what he’s seen.

“He’s been great defensively,” Hanlen said. “He’s disruptive in passing lanes, contained the ball well and provided a ton of energy”

Lastly, in terms of goals for the second half of the season, Hanlen is hoping to see more of the same.

“We’re hoping that he keeps getting more and more confident but the goals haven’t changed much,” Hanlen said.

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“An efficient 8 to 10 points on 38 percent 3-point shooting while being a great defender is what we’re working for. We’re more focused on progress and improvement than statistics. The goal is for him to be a big time contributor on a playoff team.”

An interesting benchmark for Oubre is Otto Porter, the fourth year pro from Georgetown who is enjoying a breakout season in the NBA.

Porter currently leads the NBA in 3-point percentage while averaging 14.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game on 53 percent shooting from the field.

Porter, similar to Oubre, was limited in terms of minutes in his rookie season but has improved every year and now is projected as a potential max contract player this coming summer as his rookie deal expires.

2nd Season                        PTS         Reb        STL         FG%       3PT%     FT%        TS%        PER

Otto Porter Jr.                   6.0          3.0          0.6          45%        33.7%    73.4%    52.3%    11.6

Kelly Oubre Jr.                   6.3          3.5          0.7          43.5%    31.7%    76.9%    54.1%    10.3

Porter similarly had a slow start to his career, which was accompanied with questions, but given the opportunity in his second season, has blossomed into a core piece in Washington. Oubre is developing on a similar trajectory to Porter

Over the past 11 games, Oubre is averaging 8.4 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, 41.2 percent from 3-point range and a true shooting percentage of 62.4 percent.

His play has improved during the course of the season and he seems to be settling in as a more reliable fixture in the rotation.

As he settles into a consistent role, his athleticism and length are showing more, especially on the defensive end as he’s playing with increased confidence.

Oubre is disruptive, playing the 3-and-D role that the coaching staff likely envisioned for him before the season.

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If Oubre can continue to play consistent basketball as he continues to grow as a player, it will allow him to carve out a more significant role moving forward – a role that could allow the core three of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter to grow into a core four.