Washington Wizards 2017 Season Review: Kelly Oubre Jr.

Apr 26, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) dunks the ball as Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) looks on in the fourth quarter in game five of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 26, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) dunks the ball as Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) looks on in the fourth quarter in game five of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Washington Wizards 21-year old forward Kelly Oubre Jr. was one of the team’s most productive bench players this season. He provided active defense and versatility on offense. With Scott Brooks as coach, the hope is that Oubre continues to develop into a starting level talent. After his 2016-17 season, I still expect to see that in his future.

Basic Stats: 6.3 PPG (42.1 FG%, 28.7 3P%), 3.3 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.7 SPG, 20.3 MPG

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be posting individual player reviews for the guys that ended the season in a Washington Wizards uniform. We’ll start with the youngest player on the team, Kelly Oubre Jr.

The Washington Wizards saw improvements from an assortment of players in 2016-17. People will remember John Wall officially becoming a superstar, and hitting the game winning three pointer in Wiz-Celtics Game 6.

We’ll remember Bradley Beal‘s max contract, his first healthy season, and his maturation to a borderline All-Star player who averaged 23.1 points per game.

We already remember Otto Porter‘s improvements this season, and we’ll surely remember his upcoming max contract.

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But will we remember the improvements of second year forward Kelly Oubre Jr.?

Much was made of the expected improvements of Oubre heading into the season, as the Wizards hired head coach Scott Brooks.

Brooks was known for a winning culture, leading superstars, and great player development. Player development was exactly what Washington needed after investing the 15th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft in a raw wing player from the University of Kansas.

At the NBA Draft Combine, Oubre listed at a height of 6’7″, a wingspan of 7’2″, and a max vertical of 37″.

Oubre has all the physical tools to make a great pro player, and now just needs the leadership, experience, and coaching.

This season, Oubre played 20 minutes per game in 79 regular season games. His rookie year he played 63 games on 10 minutes per game. This equated to 934 more minutes played in year two, plus and additional 184 minutes played in the postseason.

The main reason Brooks called upon Oubre was for defense. Because of Oubre’s quickness and length, he was asked to guard positions 1-4. We saw in the playoffs him guard Dennis Schroder and Isaiah Thomas, as well as Paul Millsap and Kelly Olynyk.

Oubre’s regular season per 36 numbers don’t show an effective statistical defender, but his playoff numbers do, albeit in a much smaller sample size.

Oubre learned a lot from his limited postseason playing time, and should enter his offseason training program with added motivation to improve his game.

His season ended in Boston in Game 7 riding the bench. Brooks took plenty of heat for not playing KO, and Oubre must be excited to prove how much he can help the team.

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After all, most fans will remember him for his actions in Game 3 of the series with the Celtics.

The Wizards biggest weakness is their bench production, so any improvements Kelly can make on offense will be greatly appreciated by fans and the teams’ starters.

Because of Oubre’s versatility, he can play shooting guard, small forward, and power forward. But to be more effective, he must improve his shooting percentages.

While he shot 36.7% from three in the playoffs, his regular season percentage was only 28%. That’s way too low for a potential 3&D player who attempted 2.4 three pointers per game in the regular season.

This is exactly why the Celtics had Isaiah Thomas guard Oubre in the playoff series.

Additionally, Oubre must work on his driving and creating. Too many times this season we saw Oubre put his head down and drive to the hoop, content with a high contact layup. Routinely this ended in an offensive foul from Oubre or a missed layup.

In terms of his creating, he’s shown a willingness to shoot from everywhere, but an unwillingness to pass to teammates and continue running the offense. Assist percentage (AST%) tells the percentage of teammate field goals that a player assisted on. Oubre’s AST% was 4.

He had the lowest AST% on the team, even below former Wizard Andrew Nicholson. Among all NBA wings who played at least 60 games, Oubre ranked sixth worst in that category. Maybe Brooks will institute a rule similar to middle school basketball teams, like four passes before you shoot.

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Despite the likely resigning of Otto Porter, there is still room for Oubre to gain more minutes in the rotation. Moving forward he’ll need to do more than bring energy.

Throughout the season, the Wizards used a “death lineup” late in games to grow the lead. The lineup’s purpose was to have five players who can switch seamlessly, and guard three or four players each. The lineup was compiled of Wall, Beal, Oubre, Porter, and Markieff Morris.

It was one of the best lineups the team ran throughout the season, and likely will be used more next season, especially if the team trades Marcin Gortat.

If Oubre wants to see more playing time, he’ll need to prove he’s worthy of the time. Brooks has shown he won’t simply play you because of your draft number or salary.

Oubre will need to show the same defensive intensity from the postseason, but at better performance. Hopefully he will get in the gym with Beal’s trainer Drew Hanlen again this summer to work on improving his game.

Next: Is Melo Trimble the Right Pick for the Wizards

Despite what some may think, Oubre will be key to the Wizards’ chances of finally advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.