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Kelly Oubre Jr. is the 3-and-D Wildcard of the NBA Draft

The new craze in the NBA is finding a 3-and-D player to plug into your lineup. Analytics have taken stage and versatility is more important than ever before, with the best teams in the league utilizing small ball lineups and fast-paced attacks.

The Warriors, fighting tooth and nail with the Cavaliers in the finals, are the best example of this, putting Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green at power forward and center, wringing out every bit of their versatility to create mismatches on both ends of the floor. Perhaps the best 3-and-D, two-way player in the league is Klay Thompson, who hits treys on one end and locks down his man on the other. These 3-and-D players are as valuable as they are rare, which is why any player with 3-and-D potential in the draft is highly coveted.  That includes Kelly Oubre Jr., who despite failing to meet the hype in his freshman season at Kansas, projects to be a prototypical 3-and-D player at the next level.

Oubre was the classic underperforming heralded prospect in his freshman season, showing signs of stardom and stretches of futility.

Bill Self is a no-excuses, unrelenting coach that’s unafraid to bench his top prospects. He’s done it in the past, even for stretches with top picks Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid last season, and Oubre wasn’t an exception.

He was unanimous top ten draft prospect coming into the season, but failed to crack the starting lineup until the 10th game of the season. With Self playing eight different players at least 15 minutes per game, even as a starter Oubre was forced to produce in limited minutes.

Oubre averaged 9.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and made 34 three’s in 21.0 minutes per game, which doesn’t stick out at first glance, but is actually a rare stat line.

He’s one of five players in Sports-Reference’s database dating back to 2009-2010 to average at least 9 points and 5 rebounds and hit at least 30 three’s in 21 minutes per game or less. He’s the only guard among those players, and the only player to do it this season. That’s 17.6 points and 9.5 rebounds per 40 minutes, which are impressive numbers for a 19 year old.

Oubre’s best assets offensively are his jumper and ability to get out in the break.

Stats Courtesy of Draft Express

Transition Catch and Shoot Iso Off the Dribble
1.0 PPP 1.07 PPP 1.06 PPP 0.67 PPP

He attempted five three pointers per 40 minutes, making 35.8%, showing off a solid, yet inconsistent lefty jumper. Per Hoop-Math, all of Oubre’s three pointers were assisted, with a small sample size of his midrange jumpers coming off the dribble. That’s not a great indicator or predictor of ball-handling skills, as Oubre lacks a go-to move to get past defenders and has no real in between game.

He looked much more comfortable in transition, showcasing the ability to finish and hit the trailer three, which is a major point of emphasis in new age basketball or for teams that utilize smaller lineups.

Although he showcased a superior transition game, he’s not nearly as effective of a finisher in half court. Per Hoop-Math, Oubre shot about as many mid-range shots (31.0% of his offense) as shots at the rim (30.5% of his offense). He was a solid finisher, shooting 60.3%, but his lack of attempts is confusing since he should be an elite finisher at his size and athleticism.

As a passer, Oubre is about as green as it comes, averaging just 1.5 assists per 40 minutes, which ranks dead last among Draft Express’s top 100 small forwards. He had 28 assists in 756 minutes, partly due to his lack of vision and selfishness at times, which will need to change at the next level.

The end of the court where Oubre can really turn into a star is the defensive end. He has immense defensive potential, standing at 6’7,” with a 7’2” wingspan, with the lateral quickness and hand speed to terrorize opponents. He averaged 2.2 steals and 0.7 blocks per 40 minutes, and as his experience and skills grow, he could defend 2-3 positions. He’ll need to renew his focus on that end and continue build muscle, but the possibilities are endless.

Oubre’s endgame is all about which Kelly will show up on any given night. It took him 10 games to crack double-digit scoring, and he scored 20 points just three times–against Lafayette, Kent State, and TCU.

The Horned Frogs were the best example of Oubre’s double-edged sword, as he scored 0 points in 29 minutes in his first two games against them, only to score 25 points shooting 15-19 at the free throw line in the third contest. It’s that kind of flip of the coin inconsistency that makes Oubre a wild card on draft night, but if he ends up on the right team, watch out.

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