Kelly Oubre made some improvements, but still has a ways to go

Kelly Oubre Jr. played just six seconds in Game 7 as the Wizards lost to theBoston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. And just like that, his season ended the same way it began; with one big question mark.

Coming into the 2016-2017 campaign, the expectation was that Oubre would step into the backup role left vacant as the Wizards opted not to re-sign guys likeGarrett Temple and Jared Dudley. The hope was that the second-year player would slowly morph into a 3 & D player that the Wizards have sought out sinceTrevor Ariza’s departure. And although Oubre did improve from his rookie season, he still has a ways to go.

Even though Oubre struggled to score at times, Scott Brooks often opted to play him over Markieff Morris with the starters to close out games during stretches in December and January. However, when he spent time playing alongside the second unit, he struggled to score.

Although Oubre’s minutes essentially doubled from last season to this season (10.7 to 20.3), his scoring never came around. The second-year player worked with Drew Hanlen this offseason to try and improve his offensive game but it never came to fruition. He averaged more points this season (6.3) but that was due to his increased usage and shot volume.

In what looked like it would be another ho-hum season with just minor improvements, Oubre turned in the best stretch of his career starting with a 16 point and 7 rebound game as the Wizards beat the Cavs, 127-115 on March 25th. That kicked off a stretch where Oubre would average 11.4 points per game over the next 10 games, the best stretch of his career.

Unfortunately, that hot stretch didn’t fully carry over to the playoffs as Oubre’s numbers reverted back to the mean as he averaged 5.8 points and 2.3 rebounds; very similar to his shaky and inconsistent regular season numbers.

Now, Oubre enters a very pivotal offseason. Unlike Porter, he will not be forced into a starting role in his third season. That means Oubre will need to continue to make strides in his game keeping in mind that his minutes will probably hover around the 20-minute mark again next season.

In a recent interview, Oubre stated that he’ll be working out with Bradley Beal this summer to work on creating his own shot and setting up others. This seems like a big mistake. Oubre still has not become a knockdown shooter or a lockdown defender. To flourish as a key bench player next season, he’ll have to raise his three-point shooting percentage. His jump shot did look much cleaner this season than when he entered the NBA but the only issue was, it still never went in at a high rate. Shooting 28.7 percent from distance isn’t going to cut it.

Like his rookie campaign, Oubre would either shoot a three-point shot or would try to drive all the way to the hole and finish in traffic. There was an improvement here as Oubre connected on 57 percent of his field goals within eight feet from the hoop, but keep in mind that includes plenty of easy, uncontested dunks off of turnovers. When he tried finishing over seven-footers in halfcourt situations, it often led to poor shot attempts or turnovers before he even got a chance to get a shot up.

In addition, Oubre should focus on improving his perimeter defense. Wizards fans salivate over Oubre’s physical tools as he stands at 6’7 with a 7’1 wingspan, but he hasn’t become a great on-ball defender, yet. He still gambles too often on defense, is overzealous, and commits far too many fouls.

As Oubre enters one of the most important offseasons of his career, he’ll be best suited in trying to hone in his shooting and defense rather than worrying about creating his own shot. Because when it boils down to it, his evolution and ceiling as an NBA player most likely mimics that of Trevor Ariza and Otto Porter more than it does Paul George or Kawhi Leonard.


Celtics vs. Wizards Game 3: Washington blows out Boston 116-89 for first series win

Six Washington players score in double figures led by John Wall with 24 and 19 from Bojan Bogdanovic off the bench as the Wizards blow out the Celtics, 116-89. After giving up big first quarter leads in the first two games, this game was never in doubt after the midway point of the first quarter.

With the game tied at 12 early, Washington did what they’ve done best in this series and got out to a big lead. Washington used an unthinkable 22-0 run which included jumpers from John Wall and three three-pointers from Bojan Bogdanovic to get the reserves going. Washington shot 59 percent in the period and never looked back as they led, 39-17.

Things were brewing between Kelly Oubre and Kelly Olynyk early in the second quarter. Olynyk set a hard screen on Oubre early on. Just a couple of possessions later, Olynyk set another hard screen on Oubre which he wasn’t too fond of and Oubre retaliated by running over Olynyk.

Oubre would get ejected from the game.

Unlike the first two games, the Wizards did not give Isaiah Thomas a pass on defense. On almost every possession, the Wizards threw the ball into the post for whichever player was matched up on Thomas and they’d go to work in the post. Otto Porter was one of those guys who knocked down two post up shots over Thomas and knocked down his first seven field goals of the game as well.

Porter scored 15 in the half as the Wizards led 63-40 at the break.

After stretching the lead out to 26, Boston made an inevitable run to cut the lead to 18. But Washington had an answer for every Boston run. John Wall took over and attacked the hoop resulting in 10 free throw attempts tonight. Washington stretched the lead back out to 27 as Wall found Morris for their patented alley-oop.

Two players in Brandon Jennings and Terry Rozier who’ve also had history in this series got into it as well. The two were jawing at each other which ended up in both players being ejected.

Fortunately for Washington, Wall and Beal were able to rest for the entire fourth quarter as the bench would close this one out, 116-89.

Washington ended this game in the first quarter

The game was tied at 12 early on. Then the Wizards went on a 22-0 lead to blow this one open and never looked back. After struggling mightily in Game 2, Bradley Beal got cooking early as he scored the first seven points for Washington. Wall was able to get out and attack in transition to either finish at the rim or find open shooters. Washington connected on 5-6 three-pointers in the first quarter as they led 39-17 and never looked back.

This game was very chippy

It all actually started when Ian Mahinmi and Jonas Jerebko got tied up underneath the hoop. The two went face to face but nothing happened as both players received technical fouls. As mentioned, Kelly Oubre had two hard screens set on him and took exception to the second one in decking Olynyk. It’ll be interesting to see if Oubre gets suspended for a game as a result.

Last but not least, the pesky Jennings got under Rozier’s skin as the two chirped back and forth with both players getting ejected. Ironically enough, Morris and Horford never got into it tonight.

The Wizards went right at Thomas

In the first two games, the Wizards didn’t attack Thomas all too much. In this one, they found out where he was on the floor defensively and immediately posted him up. Thomas got no passes on defense and the Wizards exploited his height.

John Wall scores a playoff-high 32 points as Wizards win game 1, 114-107

All five Wizards starters score in double figures led by John Wall with 32 points and 14 assists as the Wizards take control in the second half and beat the Hawks in game 1, 114-107. Bradley Beal scored 22 points while Markieff Morris made his presence known with 21 points including some monstrous dunks in his playoff debut.

Everything was going well for Washington from the beginning. Shots were falling, they were winning the 50/50 balls, and Wall was finding his teammates in transition as Washington pulled out to an early 20-10 lead. But the reserves came in towards the end of the first quarter and it was a different story. Atlanta used a 17-2 run over the last three minutes of the quarter against mainly Washington’s reserves as Atlanta led, 29-25 after one.

The Wizards scoring drought carried over into the second quarter. But although shots weren’t falling for Washington, they stayed engaged and active on the defensive end. After a late three-pointer from Bradley Beal, Markieff Morris would get fouled on a three-point attempt as time expired. Morris would knock down all three free throws as the Wizards trailed 48-45 at halftime.

But before the teams could enter the tunnel, Morris and Milsap had some choice words for each other and had to be separated.

The scuffle seemed to fire Morris up as he scored a quick seven points (11 in the period) for Washington as the Wizards regained the lead 53-52. The Wizards got back to their bread and butter and pushed the ball in transition leading to layups for Wall or Wall dishing to teammates for open shots. Washington used a 15-3 run to take a 10 point lead which included several Markieff Morris posterizing dunks.

John Wall scored 15 in the period as the Wizards took a 83-76 lead into the fourth quarter.

Washington’s defense picked up where it left off from earlier in the season as two straight deflections led to layups for Bogdanovic on the other end. The Hawks made one last run and were able to cut the lead to five, 108-103 with 2:05 remaining as Taurean Prince hit a corner three for Atlanta. But Washington would hit their free-throws and Morris would find Wall for a touchdown pass and a layup as the Wizards take game 1, 114-107.

John Wall has his best career playoff performance

John Wall notched his first ever 30 point, 10 assist playoff game tonight as he ended the night with 32 points and 14 assists. Wall came out of the gate hot, struggled in the second quarter, but exploded in the third quarter for 15 of his 32 points.

John Wall looked to push the pace and also did a great job of getting Marcin Gortat some easy baskets. Wall was a perfect 6-6 from the line and connected on 2-4 three-point attempts.

Playoff Markieff Morris looks very good

This was Markieff Morris’ first playoff game tonight and he didn’t show any signs of rust or jitters. Morris scored 21 points to go along with four rebounds and four blocks as he won the matchup with Paul Milsap. Morris was very active on defense and took the matchup with Milsap personal as the two were chirping at each other the entire night. If we get this type of effort from Morris, this could be a quick series.

The bench remains a minor concern

The bench looked to get their act together towards the end of the regular season but reverted back to their old ways at times tonight. The reserves blew the lead in the second quarter which forced Brooks to shuffle in starters with the reserves in the second half. Kelly Oubre played very well in his playoff debut with 11 points and three rebounds but was a little overzealous to start. The only other reserve to score was Bogdanovic with four points.

It didn’t matter tonight and may not matter during this series, but the Wizards will need better production from their bench, especially with Mahinmi out.

Kelly Oubre is playing the best basketball of his career and the timing couldn’t be better

Kelly Oubre has shown the Wizards faithful what he’s capable of in brief spurts during his two years in Washington but over the past few weeks, he’s finally strung together a series of strong performances for the first time in his NBA career. The timing couldn’t come at a more opportune time as the Wizards gear up for a deep playoff run and need more contributions from their bench to compensate for Ian Mahinmi’s injury.

After being a healthy scratch against the Mavericks on March 15, Oubre has shown everyone why he needs to be an important part of Washington’s rotation. After some solid spot performances in mid-March, his breakout game came on March 25th when the Wizards went to Cleveland on the second half of a back-to-back and beat the Cavs, 127-115. John Wall and Bradley Beal were the stars of the show, but it was Oubre who provided a spark off the bench with 16 points on 7-8 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and a steal.

Defense has never been the problem for Oubre. Yes, he tends to gamble for steals a little too often but for the most part, is a very good defender considering this is just his second season in the league. Oubre uses his long arms to lock guys down and deflect passes that either force the opposing team to reset their offense late in the shot clock or force turnovers. Since his breakout game in Cleveland, he’s averaging four deflections per game, the eighth-best mark in the league. All seven players who averaged more deflections also played more minutes per game than Oubre.

Not only has his defense picked up a notch, but he’s become a much better scorer, particularly from inside the arc. When Washington drafted Oubre, they thought that he’d turn into the 3 & D guy to replace the void left by Trevor Ariza. While he’s struggled with his three-point shot all season (29 percent), he is becoming much more effective in attacking the hole and with his midrange jump shot.

Prior to this recent run, if Oubre wasn’t shooting a three-point shot, he was driving all the way to the hole and trying to finish in traffic. Far too often, he would wind up taking a contested shot over a 7-footer or get rejected at the rim. After shooting just 30 percent from the midrange area most of the season, Oubre has started to show promise in the mid-range area. As his confidence grows, Brooks is starting to run plays for Oubre to curl off a screen and catch-and-shoot in the midrange.

This is a nice compromise that keeps Oubre engaged offensively in an area where he can be effective, and keeps him out of trouble near the paint. Yes, the sample size is small, but over the last 10 games, Oubre has upped his two-point field goal shooting from 50.3 percent to 57.6 percent.

Is this the new Kelly Oubre that we should all become accustomed to? Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure, he’s putting together his best stretch of play at the best possible time for Washington.

Wizards at Knicks Final: Wiz avoid late collapse, beat Knicks 106-103

Bradley Beal leads the way with 25 points including two key free throws down the stretch as the Wizards hang on to beat the Knicks, 106-103. John Wall added 24 points while Marcin Gortat was a perfect 7-7 from the field for 16 points as the Wizards avoid a #SoWizards collapse for their 48th win of the season.

The Knicks were playing loose and freely throughout this one as they’d already been eliminated from playoff contention. New York started the game 6-6 from the field for an early 14-10 lead. Washington answered with a 10-0 run of their own highlighted by Wall weaving his way through the lane for a nice throw-down jam.

Wall was a perfect 4-4 from the field for 10 points as the Wizards led, 33-27 after one quarter.

The feisty Knicks would not go away. New York put out a roster that resembled that of a D-League team but were able to keep the game within striking distance and climbed within three points of Washington in the second quarter. A late 6-0 run from Washington stretched the lead to eight, 59-51 at halftime.

Beal and Gortat picked up where they left off connecting on their first shots of the third quarter while Wall was trying out some new And-1 moves against the helpless Knicks. The Wizards stretched the lead to 15, 71-56 and it looked like they might run away with this one. However, some hot shooting from Sasha Vujacic to end the third quarter had the Knicks within seven 82-75 entering the fourth quarter.

Washington has been playing some bad defense as of late and it was on display in the fourth quarter. The Knicks went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to two and suddenly, Washington was in trouble. After tying the game at 97, Wall drove for a layup and then drove for a monstrous dunk to put the Wizards back up four, 101-97.

But unlike other lottery teams, the Knicks still have a star in Carmelo Anthony. Anthony scored six points down the stretch to tie the game. With under a minute remaining, Beal drove baseline and found Bogdanovic who kicked it back to beal for three as the Wizards took a 104-101 lead.

Carmelo would brick a three-pointer as time was winding down as the Wizards escape with the 106-103 victory.

The Kelly Oubre experience continues

Kelly Oubre continues his hot stretch off the bench this time, with 13 points and five rebounds. Once again, Oubre outscored Porter and received more playing time than Otto as Oubre was in for the entire fourth quarter. The second-year player was tasked with guarding Carmelo Anthony down the stretch and did about as good of a job as one could do. On the offensive end, Oubre stayed in attack mode both from three-point range and in attacking the hole.

This is very reminiscent of Otto Porter who had his coming out party just prior to and during the 2014-2015 playoffs.

Marcin Gortat gets his rhythm back

After some tough games, Gortat got back in a groove on 7-7 shooting for 16 points. Gortat had a pretty favorable matchup as he went up against Willy Hernangomez for most of the evening. Regardless, it was nice to see Gortat get back in a groove.

The Wizards almost #SoWizards this game away

Washington led by 15 midway through the third quarter against a roster that might lose to some D-League teams yet they let New York back in this one. The Wizards only gave up 103 points, which is an improvement, but the defense is still not back. As a result, unlikely players caught fire and the Knicks were able to tie this game late in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for Washington, they were still able to get the win.

Hornets at Wizards Final Score: Wizards ride a hot third quarter to beat the Hornets, 118-111

John Wall logged his 50th double-double of the season with 23 points, 13 assists, and six steals as the Wizards snap their three-game losing streak and beat the Hornets, 118-111. Bradley Beal added 19 points for Washington while Jason Smith scored 17 including a career-high, five made three-pointers.

This one didn’t start out great for the Wizards. Otto missed his first four shots of the game and Gortat missed his first jumper as the Wizards started just 1-7 from the field and found themselves in an early hole. With Washington down 22-14, the starters exiting the game. The bench came right in and picked things up highlighted by Jennings getting out in transition to find Bogdanovic for a wide open three. However, Washington trailed 24-22 after one.

The bench carried that good play over to the second quarter and started the period on an 8-0 run to regain the lead, 32-30. But then Kemba Walker caught fire. Walker did it all for Charlotte as the All-Star scored 17 points in the quarter to stretch the Hornets halftime lead to 12, 63-51.

Scotty Brooks will want to bottle up his halftime speech from this game because the Wizards came out guns blazing to start the third quarter. Washington was able to use a 10-0 run to trim the lead to one, highlighted by this play where Wall raced out in transition to find a cutting Beal for the throw down slam.

Washington started the quarter 10-13 from the field and they’d outscore Charlotte 36-18 in the period as they regained control, 87-81.

Kelly Oubre made his mark on the game in the fourth quarter. After missing a wide open dunk, Oubre made up for it with two wide open threes. The Wizards led by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter but the Hornets had one last ditch effort. Frank Kaminsky hit two threes with under two minutes remaining to cut the Wizards lead to four, 108-104. But with 36.8 seconds remaining, Wall would find Otto in the corner for a three-pointer to seal the game as the Wizards win, 118-111.

Wizards get hot from three-point range

Washington shot 50 percent from three-point range tonight as they connected on 17-34 attempts. As mentioned, Jason Smith knocked down a career-high five three-pointers to help the Wizards win this one. John Wall and Kelly Oubre also added three three-pointers apiece for Washington as they were able to get clean looks from distance tonight.

Wizards get excellent production from the bench

Washington’s bench combined for 45 points tonight led by Jason Smith with 17 and Kelly Oubre with 15. Unlike during the five-game hot streak for Oubre, he did most of his damage tonight either from distance or in the mid-range. Smith led the Wizards with nine three-point attempts but knocked down an efficient, 55.6 percent of those.

The bench is peaking at the best time possible as this team enters the playoffs.

The Wizards can’t escape old ghosts

Washington’s defense wasn’t that great save for the third quarter where they outscored Charlotte 36-18. They were crushed on the boards in the first half but the lopsided third quarter evened things out that you won’t be able to catch in the box score.

Yes, the Wizards got the win. But once again, they let another team eclipse the 110+ mark.

Wizards at Warriors final score: Curry scores 42 as Warriors blow out Wizards, 139-115.

Steph Curry catches fire for 42 points as the Warriors beat the Wizards 139-115. Bradley Beal scored a team-high 20 points while Wall chipped in with 15 points and 11 assists but the Wizards didn’t have enough firepower to hang with Golden State tonight. The loss drops the Wizards to 2-3 on this road trip and the team is now a game back of Toronto and are currently in the 4-seed.

Steph Curry was smoking hot from the get-go and there was nothing the Wizards could do about it. Curry knocked down his first three three-pointers just minutes into the game as the Wizards found themselves in an early hole. But after a 0-3 start from the field for Washington, the Wizards connected on their next 7-8 shots to tie the game. Bradley Beal scored 13 points in the period while Wall dished out six assists but the Warriors shot 58 percent for the quarter for a 35-30 lead.

Former Wizard, Shaun Livingston also started out hot from the field as he connected on his first five field goals, all in the second quarter. Washington made several runs to cut the lead down to three, but the Warriors always had an answer. Washington used a 10-2 run to cut the lead down to two, 53-51 but the Warriors used a 12-4 run to close the half and led 67-57.

The Splash Brothers remained hot in the third quarter. Klay Thompson started the period off with a deep three to stretch the Warriors lead while Steph Curry was hitting acrobatic shots like this one as the Wizards founds themselves down by as many as 20.

Golden State led 106-88 and once again, things looked bleak for Washington.

The Wizards started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run sparked by the reserves. Washington was able to get the deficit to as close as 9, 116-107 midway through the fourth quarter. But the Warriors reserves would hang on to win this one 139-115.

Defense is awful once again

Yes, Golden State is a different animal, but once again the Wizards didn’t do much to deter the Warriors tonight. Golden State shot 56 percent from the field and knocked down 16 three-pointers as they surrendered 100+ points through three quarters for the second time in three games. And as expected, Steph Curry had his revenge game against the Wizards with 42 points.

Kelly Oubre comes back to earth offensively

After his best four-game stretch of the season, Kelly Oubre came back to earth on the offensive end. Oubre scored just six points tonight on 2-11 shooting including just 2-4 from the free-throw line.

On a positive note, Oubre stayed in stride on the defensive end with several deflections and hustle plays. The offensive isn’t always going to be there for Oubre, but the key for him is continuing to play hard on the defensive end.

Too many turnovers

The Wizards committed 15 turnovers resulting in 28 points for the Warriors. You’re not going to beat Golden State coughing up the ball that much.