In life, a change of scenery usually sparks a newfound drive, passion and love for what you do. You may be lucky enough to become more successful as a result of switching spots. For Suns small forward Kelly Oubre Jr., this couldn’t be truer.
Drafted 15th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, Oubre played less than 11 minutes per contest his rookie season as a Washington Wizard. In limited action, he averaged 3.7 points per game. Those numbers jumped to 20.3 and 6.3, respectively, his sophomore season. Finally cracking double-digit scoring in his third season, Oubre’s highly touted potential flashed a bit. Heading into year 4, Washington knew it had a solid player on its hands.
A 6’7″, 205-pound wing, Oubre’s jump straight to the NBA after one season at the University of Kansas likely explains why it took him a few years to develop. Fears of his play stagnating became legitimate 29 games into this season, as Oubre failed to make the leap from solid piece to franchise cornerstone. Shipped to Phoenix on December 17 in a package for Trevor Ariza, the former Jayhawk was heading to one of the worst teams in the NBA. Little did Oubre know, though, that this would be one of the biggest blessings he’s received.
Overall with the Suns, Oubre is averaging career-highs in points (16.9), rebounds (4.9), assists (1.6), steals (1.4) and blocks (1.0). This comes while shooting a career-best 45.3% clip from the field. His scoring prowess has become more and more apparent with every passing game. For starters, take a look at his career-high 32 point performance against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. In the last month of play, Oubre has recorded a new career-high three times.
This may be just the beginning for Oubre. In March, he’s averaging 21.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG on shooting percentages of .486/.333/.762. Now receiving consistent minutes, could this become the new norm? With five games left to play against teams currently ranking in the bottom 10 of the league in DEF RTG, Oubre will have ample chances to attack opposing defenses.
Kelly Oubre’s ceiling is unknown. He may never turn into a superstar, but that’s fine. Continued progression in Phoenix has been more than enough to calm the nerves of those waiting for him to break through. Because Oubre is a restricted free agent after this season, expect to see him getting buckets in a Suns uniform for the next year or so.