Kelly Oubre is still coming into his own as the youngest player in the Washington Wizards’ rotation. Entering his third season, Oubre has to extend his shooting range and temper his aggressiveness on defense by whittling down his 4.7 fouls per 36 minutes. However, off the court, he’s already embraced the Wizards’ collective inferiority complex, as we learned from his discussion with CBS Sports:
He still isn’t over the fact he fell to No. 15 in the 2015 draft, saying he has “a fire burning in his heart from that.” That attitude fits perfectly in Washington, where the players seem permanently peeved that their peers get more attention. Oubre said the Wizards are always aware of what’s going on around them, and they believe they are being underestimated yet again.
“Well, s***, if you look at it, they always have the Wizards last, man,” Oubre said. “On all ranking sites and all websites, they always put us last. I understand we have the last letter in the alphabet as far as teams in the league, but you have to show some respect when respect is due. We’ve been putting in the work over the years, man, to be appreciated. And I feel like a lot of people look over us — even the NBA. But we’re going to show people wrong. It’s just fuel to the fire, man. We’re coming. D.C. is on the rise.”
Every perceived slight stings like a bullet wound to the stars on this team. Oubre feeling slighted about falling to 15th in his draft would carry more weight if he actually outperformed a majority of the 14 players taken before him. Among those in the 2015 draft lottery are Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Kristaps Porzingis and Justise Winslow. Devin Booker fell to 13th, just two spots before Oubre.
In the wake of Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward’s gruesome ankle injury, Washington’s path toward breaking out of their second-round ceiling becomes clearer. The Toronto Raptors’ current iteration appears to have peaked, and Dwane Casey is tinkering with the offense in an attempt to discover an extra gear. LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers altered their lineup considerably by trading Kyrie Irving and are relying on Isaiah Thomas regaining his All-Star form after a serious hip injury.
And Oubre will have a sizable role to play in Washington’s ascension. He must improve upon his 6.3 points on 29 percent 3-point shooting and 3.3 rebounds per 20 minutes a game, which had him ranked 34th in Player Efficiency Rating out of 40 eligible small forwards. The sooner Oubre breaks out, the better — for the Wizards and for him. Oubre is eligible for a rookie contract extension next fall.
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