Warriors

Oubre's career night was coming as comfort with Dubs grows

Warriors
Kelly Oubre dunking

The Kelly Oubre Jr. experience has been a rollercoaster ride since he put on a Warriors jersey for the first time a few months ago. 

He had a historically rough start but showed glimpses of the player the Warriors thought they were getting during free agency. Think of when the rollercoaster is creeping up the slope toward the peak. But then, as rollercoasters do, his performance would come crashing down. 

But, the biggest takeaway from Oubre's season so far is that when he is on, he is great for the Warriors and how he does correlates to how the Warriors do

Against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, Oubre had a career night, scoring a personal-best 40 points on 14-of-21 shooting, including 7-of-10 from distance. He scored 22 points in the first half alone -- tying his career-high for most points in half -- just a week after scoring a career-high 16 points in a quarter. And the Warriors not only won, but they blew the Mavs out 147-116 and did it with no true center. 

"I think this has been coming," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told the media in a postgame Zoom conference. "Obviously, for Kelly, it's been a rough first quarter of the season. And yet, within that span, he's had some excellent games for us. He's played very well at times, he's just had some really poor shooting nights during that span that people have locked in on. But Kelly is getting more comfortable. Guys in the locker room love him and want to help him continue to get comfortable. This was obviously a great night for him."

 

Seeing Oubre go off as he did was a sign of relief for the Warriors and Warrior fans alike. But the most encouraging aspect of Oubre's game is how comfortable he looked on the court, and his ability to play alongside Steph Curry -- which has previously been a problem area. 

But Thursday night, everything clicked. As Oubre said on "Warriors Postgame Live," Dallas had size, but the Warriors had speed. Oubre had speed after the game as well -- getting out of the locker room and on the team bus within 20 minutes of the game ending. 

But back to the game. This is far from the first time Oubre played in a small-ball lineup. That's when he played his best basketball with the Phoenix Suns the last few seasons. 

"I think, honestly, I think this style fits everybody better," Kerr told the media postgame. "When the game is like that it's so loose and up and down and feels almost like Summer League. I think everybody is more comfortable in a small game where there's a lot of space and room to roam. It's a little easier to get a rhythm."

With James Wiseman being re-evaluated in about five days and Kevon Looney out for at least two weeks, the Warriors will depend on small-ball for at least the rest of their Texas road trip against the Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs. 

In those three remaining games -- one more against the Mavericks and two against the Spurs -- it will be vital for Oubre to match the energy he played with Thursday. No, he doesn't need to have 40 points again. Fifteen points each night would suffice. But the same intensity -- intensity that led to Oubre blocking 7-foot-4 Boban Marjanovic -- needs to be there.

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This game could be the spark for Oubre over this next stretch, and then after Wiseman and Looney return. It will be difficult to play with the speed the Warriors had against Dallas. But aspects of this game need to be reapplied when the Warriors have more typical five-man lineups. 

The Warriors need to maintain the ball and body movement they had against the Mavs moving forward, and when that happens, Oubre typically plays better. 

Oubre has had so many peaks and valleys so far, and we're only a quarter of the way through the season. But if his career game showed anything, it's that he can succeed on this team, and when he does, the group is better.

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