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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Will Kelly Oubre, Jr. make a big leap this season?

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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Will Kelly Oubre, Jr. make a big leap this season?

As part of CSN's preview for the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we preview Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s season...

Player: Kelly Oubre, Jr.

Position: Small forward

Age: 21

2016-17 stats: 79 G, 20.3 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 0.6 apg, 3.3 rpg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg, 42.1 FG%, 28.7 3P%, 75.8 FT%, 48.2 eFG%, 104 ORtg, 110 DRtg

2017-18 storyline: Oubre's second NBA season was a productive one and a clear step forward for the former first round pick. He doubled his minutes under head coach Scott Brooks, carved a niche as a disruptor on defense and got some playoff experience along the way; some very memorable playoff experience, in fact. Oubre now enters his third season with the Wizards with an option on his contract for the fourth year that will be determined sometime over the next month.

This year represents a chance for Oubre to take another step and become an even more important cog in their second unit. Like most young players, the Wizards are looking for consistency from Oubre. They want him to let the game come to him and play within their system. Focus on defense and let the offense follow. 


On their revamped bench, Oubre remains the most athletic player and best wing defender. He also has a potentially important spot in the Wizards' small-ball lineups. Last season, Brooks found success with Oubre playing alongside Otto Porter with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Brooks liked how the four of them could switch from ball-handlers to wings. 

Defense is likely to be Oubre's calling card in the short-term, but he has a high ceiling on offense. He has been working extensively this offseason with trainer Drew Hanlen on dribbling and creating his own shot. Developing those skills should help him score more efficiently, as both his field-goal and three-point percentages dropped slightly last year as his volume of shot attempts increased. The more he can knock down threes, the more other teams will focus on him defensively and that can open up opportunities for other bench guys like Jodie Meeks.

Potential to improve: Three-point shooting, ball-handling, on-ball defense.


Can John Wall take another step after earning All-NBA?

Is this the year Bradley Beal becomes an All-Star?

What is the next step in Otto Porter's development?

Markieff Morris can be an X-factor this season

Will Marcin Gortat's role change or be the same this year?



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Kelly Oubre, Jr. may take on larger role due to injuries, and rebounding could be key

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Kelly Oubre, Jr. may take on larger role due to injuries, and rebounding could be key

The Wizards have two players sidelined at the moment and both happen to play the same position. Markieff Morris was already out following the sports hernia surgery he had in September, then Jason Smith sprained his right shoulder defending a dunk attempt by Joel Embiid in the regular season opener on Wednesday night.

This has put head coach Scott Brooks in a tough predicament. He's trying to acclimate new players into his rotation, but now has no choice but to get creative. Smith is considered questionable for Friday night and is likely going to be limited, regardless when he returns.

If Smith misses time or is not 100 percent, the onus will fall mostly on third-year forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. with Mike Scott behind him. Oubre is not a power forward, but is versatile enough to co-exist with Otto Porter alongside John Wall, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat. The Wizards utilized that lineup last season at times and relied on it heavily once Smith departed Wednesday night's game. Porter could be looked as the four in that group, but he and Oubre are essentially interchangable on defense.

Oubre, 21, came through with 14 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals against the Sixers. He knocked down three three-pointers and shot 5-of-10 from the field overall.

"I'm ready. I've worked for this moment. The season is here, so it's time to put the work to the test," Oubre said. "I feel very confident. I feel very relaxed. This is Year 3, so I'm excited for all the opportunities that may come."


Those eight rebounds stand out, in particular. Oubre averaged 3.3 rebounds last season, his second year in the NBA, in 20.3 minutes. Oubre had 14 in one of their preseason games and has clearly put extra focus on that part of his game.

One reporter (me) asked Oubre about his 'seven' rebounds in the opener and Oubre issued a quick correction, showing exactly how much attention he's paying to the stat.

"I had eight in the opener, but yeah," he said. "It's a big emphasis because that's what we need. We need guys to go in there and rebound, push the break and keep up the pace. That's the style of play that we're looking for, to play fast and play tough. Crashing the boards is something that I need to do to help the team."

Brooks sees a lot of potential in Oubre's ability on the glass. 

"I look at rebounding as a stat that Kelly can really be consistent with. He has the size, the strength, the length and the athleticism and the toughness to get in there and get some rebounds. I think you should be able to see [eight] every night. It's one of the things we talked about to improve defensively. We have to be a better defensive team," Brooks said.

The Wizards miss a lot more than rebounding if Morris and Smith aren't in the picture, of course. But Oubre's development in that area could be important in the Wizards' effort to compensate for two key injuries at the same position.


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John Wall's new motto Wolf Season has reached a new level

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John Wall's new motto Wolf Season has reached a new level

It started as an offseason hashtag. After Wednesday night's win over the Sixers, it was legitimized with a postgame quote.

John Wall wants everyone to know that it's Wolf Season and, according to another favorite hashtag of his, nobody is safe.

Wall brought it up himself on Wednesday when asked about dunking all over the Sixers. When asked what Wolf Season means, he replied: "Just keep watching."

Wall used the hashtag #wolfseason all summer long in photos on Instagram. He also used the phrase #wolfwall:

It's reminiscent of the Wolf of Wall St. He also referenced "Michael Jackson Thrilla Mode" on Instragram and the music video for 'Thriller' very famously had Jackson turn into a wolf:

Michael Jackson Thrilla Mode spilling sauce everywhere I go !! #WallWay #5Deep #BYB #WolfWall

A post shared by johnwall (@johnwall) on

Whatever Wall means by it, the rest of the NBA might want to take notice.