4 December 2020

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Kelly Oubre : Phoenix’s Burning Sun

The Phoenix Suns’ Small Forward Kelly Oubre is eccentric and flashy, to say the least. Oubre has been on his fair share of dunking all over defenders in his way, especially this season. Oubre hasn’t only been known as a dunker in the NBA. His all around game seems to be getting more polished every season since entering the league in 2015. Oubre’s points per game have gone up every season while his free throw percentage and attempts have gone up as well. During his time with Washington, Oubre was not getting the ball much because of the players he was playing alongside. John Wall and Bradley Beal are all NBA caliber players and got the ball majority of the time, making it harder for Oubre to prove himself. In the 2018-2019 season, he got traded to the Phoenix Suns for Trevor Ariza.

Once Oubre got to the valley of the sun, the whole energy of the team changed. There was a sudden spark that ignited and set the whole team ablaze. Even though that spark did not lead directly to wins, the team seemed to be going in a positive direction with the addition of the former 15th overall pick. This season the Suns are currently 26-38 through 64 games, which isn’t anything special but a huge improvement from only winning 19 games the year prior. Oubre has become the catalyst that Phoenix desperately needs with two main factors.

Christian Petersen – Getty Images

Intensity

Whenever Kelly Oubre is on the court, he is looking to destroy whoever he is guarding on the offensive and defensive end. Whether it is an all-star player or a g-league player, Oubre is always looking to destroy his opponent. This season he has scored over 20 points in 24 out of 59 games that he has played. When Oubre laces up the kicks, he plays with the mentality that he will win one hundred percent of the time. The Suns have beaten playoff contending teams convincingly this season because of his intensity. Phoenix beat the 5th seed Houston Rockets by a whopping 36 points. Oubre had an astounding 39 points on 14/19 shooting and 7/9 from three.

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Oubre shut down the Rockets this game with his fast pace and manic energy. He even played legitimate defense when the team was up by 30 points. A game against the Brooklyn Nets showed how intensity can spark a team. Oubre only had 18 points but was getting under the skin of Brooklyn big man Deandre Jordan. Constantly, he was attacking the basket and showed no fear for the former all star. This led to the entire team playing with an aggressive mindset. Every player on the starting lineup scored over 10 points and shot 40% or better from three point range. Once Kelly established the level of intensity, it was game over. Players would step up and continue to show that their team is the best team on the floor. For a club that had 19 wins the season before, the intensity showed on both ends by Oubre has been a huge wake-up call to the team.

Style of Play

Mike Stobe – Getty Images

During his 5 year career, Kelly Oubre has always played with a chip on his shoulder. Even going back to his Kansas days, Oubre always played like he has something to prove. He ended up going 15th overall in the draft to the Atlanta Hawks, then getting traded to the Wizards. When asked about his placement in the draft, Oubre said “I was happy that my dream came true, but there were 14 names called before me. I respect all 14 of those guys but I didn’t think that 14 guys were better than me in that draft class, and I’m going to continue to prove that until the day I retire.”

The 2015 draft class was stacked with players like Karl Anthony-Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Kristaps Porzingis and Devin Booker. All of those players are all-stars which can make Oubre look foolish when he says that quote. However, in order to be the best, you to have beat the best. Every season, Oubre has shown his ability to work on all facets of his game. His three point percentage has increased, points per game, rebounds, assists as well as steals. The best part about his style of play is that Kelly finds another gear against the superstar competition. He is averaging 19.5 points in 30 games against teams with at least one all-star. Kelly has scored 20 or more points in 12 of those games respectively. Whenever Kelly Oubre steps onto the floor, he plays to prove to everybody that those 14 teams will regret not taking him in the 2015 draft.

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