Kelly Oubre Jr. got off to a slow start with the Warriors, but has found his groove over the past month and now looks like the player the Warriors thought they were getting when they used their $17.2 million trade exception to acquire him prior to the season.
Oubre, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, only is 25 and surely will have numerous suitors on the free-agent market. The Warriors, however, do own his Bird Rights and president of basketball operations Bob Myers views him as a long-term part of the Warriors' future.
"Yeah, of course," Myers told Grant Liffman and Dorell Wright on the Dubs Talk podcast. "He's been great lately. Again, it's hard to come to a new team and I've seen players try to fit in and fit into our system -- it's not that simple. I was talking to Zaza Pachulia the other day and he said he's played in a lot of organizations and he's a very smart player. He said, 'When I got here, it took me a little while to figure out what we were doing.' [Andrew] Bogut same way. David West and some of the guys that play that position, it takes them a while to figure out what we are doing. When Klay comes back it will change it up even more.
"But Kelly has been great. Without him, I know we wouldn't be as good record-wise or as fun or as good of a defense or have as high of a defensive rating. He brings great energy and we've seen his evolvement through the last month or so and it's just been tremendous. So, yeah, we love him. We'd love to have him continue with us and we hope we can figure that out. But, at the same time, it's fun to watch -- again, this is the cycle of the NBA. Every game, it's almost like people are day trading, right? It's not rational. So even when he was missing all these shots, it's not like he's going to go 0-for-50. But a lot of people watching and evaluating are probably sitting there going, 'He's never going to make a shot.'
"Now he's had a great February and he's great. It's why it's hard to be an NBA player. I think that's why it's hard, especially with social media, to not read things that, look everyone has an opinion now, and there's not a lot of barriers to entry with social media and I'd be curious to talk to Dorell about how he didn't have that after every game on Twitter or Instagram, people commenting. It's not easy to just say hey, I don't need that. So to see Kelly persevere, it's been great and it's a testament to his character."
The Warriors acquired Oubre in the wake of Klay Thompson's torn right Achilles, hoping the Kansas product could help fill a void on the wing.
In the first 20 games of the season, Oubre struggled to acclimate to the Warriors' offense, averaging 12 points per game while shooting 37.1 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from 3-point range. But he has flipped a switch in February, averaging 20.1 points per game while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 40.3 percent from long distance. Oubre also has been a key cog in the Warriors' ability to build a top-10 defense, with his length on the wing and hard-nosed mentality giving Golden State an ideal perimeter defender to badger opposing point guards and disrupt offenses.
Oubre would be a good young piece for the Warriors to put around Steph Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins as they hope to get back to true title contention next season. Myers clearly wants Oubre to return, but only time will tell if the two sides can make it work.