Kelly Oubre Jr.'s solid game is making his name pop up at the trade deadline
All eyes are on Tsunami Papi, a guy who the Warriors could really use in the postseason.
If you have Twitter and you want to check out a goofy Dub Nation related thread, here’s one about the Golden State Warriors role players from the 2019 NBA Finals and what’s become of them.
TLDR: Basically all of those players are either injury replacements, unemployed, retired, or Andre Iguodala quietly prepping for a potential seventh straight Finals trip.
And yet a couple years ago they came within an inch of forcing a seventh game in the NBA Finals without the injured All-Stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. That should give us a clue to the galvanizing power of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, and the strength of Coach Steve Kerr’s system. But it also makes me ponder which current Dubs role players are capable of stepping into the boiling cauldron of the postseason to make plays.
I believe Kelly Oubre Jr. is that type of playoff asset. His 24 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-14 shooting from the field last night against a burly Philadelphia defense demonstrated his competitive verve and athleticism.
If the Warriors can stay afloat and make the Western Conference playoff tournament, we’ll have a chance to see him ply his craft on the biggest stage. Unless of course, he’s traded before tomorrow.
The case for Kelly
After an early season offensive slump that forced Dub Nation to put an APB out for Oubre’s jumper, the 25-year old wing has shown he can be a factor alongside Curry, Green, and Andrew Wiggins. He’s averaging 15.1 PPG and just under six boards.
Overall his percentages aren’t pretty: 43.8% shooting from the field and 30% from beyond the arc. I think by now Dub Nation is hip to some contributing factors: rehab from a season-ending knee injury, learning the Warriors offense, and he’s been playing in a shuffling lineup rotation due to injuries/organizational experimentation. Regardless, we’ve seen several stretches of Oubre denting the rim with hella bricks.
But! His offense showed massive improvement in 15 games during the month of February: 20 PPG/50.2 FG%/43.0 3P%. Can the Dubs bottle that up for the future? Here’s his shot chart from that stellar stretch:
Thankfully defense is one thing they don’t have to worry about from Oubre. Warriors defensive captain Draymond Green has been praising Oubre’s defensive chops all season:
“The energy that he’s bringing on the ball has really screwed up the other team’s offense. When you have a guy like that, essentially the head of the snake, guarding the other point guard, and taking their head of the snake out of the game. It’s great to have that energy at the point of attack, and everybody else can fill in and do their job behind him.”
The Warriors have a top-5 ranked defense in large part to his churning motor and unwavering competitive nature. Those kinda guys are good to have in the playoffs, right? A 3-and-D wing who can lock onto All-Star bigs?
Trade deadline jitters
Oubre’s youth, tools, and expiring contract make him a valuable commodity for any trade talks around the NBA. The Warriors also potentially have massive luxury tax bills looming in the future if they stand pat and retain Oubre in the offseason. He’s going to command a hefty salary; do the Dubs feel like he’s worth that big contract + the accompanying tax?
We went into depth discussing this Oubre dilemma in our trade deadline vidcast with Forbes Sports’ Patrick Murray. If the Warriors ownership were to eat the exorbitant costs, we’re talking possibly paying upwards of 400 million to retain all the big deals. That number almost made Patrick’s head explode lmao. Yet if this (healthy) team is all systems go, they should be considered an automatic title contender.
I’m sure the Warriors front office has been thinking about it a lot harder than I have, and I eagerly await to see them navigate these troubled waters. If that was Oubre’s last game in Golden State, I’ll personally be sad to see him go, even if they get a great return for him. Until then, I’ll be refreshing my social media feed every hour to see the latest drama unfold.