The first double-double of Kelly Oubre's career came after he was quickly yanked from the previous game, a loss vs. the San Antonio Spurs.
The second-year forward, however, was a spark from the moment he took the court in an overtime win over the Sacramento Kings, and coach Scott Brooks might finally be able to depend on him as Otto Porter's backup.
Oubre has teetered between erratic and dependable. Athletically, he's exactly what the Wizards need. Mentally, he can be hit or miss when he enters a game from the bench. And considering how well Porter is playing, it can be difficult to believe that the starting small forward spot was ever an open competition in training camp.
"He's buying into what we need him to do. We need him to be this high-energy guy that he is," said Markieff Morris, the starting power forward, about Oubre.
"Dunk the basketball, run the floor, play defense. That's his role on the team. We need as much energy as possible from him because he's one of those type of guys"
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Brooks was fed up with Oubre blowing a defensive assignment by getting beat on a backdoor cut by the aged Pau Gasol in that loss to the Spurs. He played three minutes and never returned. Oubre logged 24 minutes vs. the Kings, one fewer than his season-high that also came in a similar performance he had in a win over the Phoenix Suns.
How good was Oubre?
He was exceptionally good:
Position defense without reaching is what works here. Omri Casspi is trying to dribble into the lane but is denied. Oubre bodies him up early and prevents him from turning the corner or squaring up for a shot. By playing disciplined individual defense, it allows Bradley Beal to stay in range of Garrett Temple while reaching in to deflect the ball in the passing lane. The result here is a forced shot to beat the shot clock that's errant.
Rudy Gay's first instinct is to shoot. So is his next instinct after he's denied. Oubre takes away the middle of the floor here, too, forcing Gay to take a difficult and contested fall-away shot. He misses but is able to get his own rebound for the bucket. More help to gang rebound by teammates might've salvaged this effort.
This play ended with a foul that had nothing to do with Oubre. He's alert and doesn't allow Darren Collison's cross screen to separate him from Gay. And pushes him out of his preferred position so he can't set for the post up too deep.
DeMarcus Cousins' lax help coverage allows this to work so well. Oubre doesn't panic on the closeout by Ty Lawson. He also doesn't do the predictable baseline drive to try to finish at the rim in traffic.
Instead, Oubre accepts the screen from Morris and reads it well. Cousins is in no-man's land. He doesn't trap the ball to help Lawson. He doesn't bump down on the roll man, Morris, to prevent a rim run. Oubre makes a pocket pass that hits his man in stride perfectly to force a foul. Oubre's tendency in this situation has been to shoot no matter what. This is a read and react.
Oubre patient w/dribble, nice pocket pass to Morris for the foul. Cousins on help not good. No trap or bump on the roll #WizKings#Wizards pic.twitter.com/EHbzs1ychM— J. Michael (@ThisIsJMichael) November 30, 2016
Oubre stays connected to Casspi, going over the screen to short cut it. Though he catches the entry pass, Casspi isn't in position to score. Oubre takes away the look immediately and moves with his feet -- he doesn't reach -- and contests the shot at the top. Casspi is bothered by it and short.
The ball pressure on Gay is what's required on the perimeter at all times. It forces the offense to start farther out from the rim, erodes time on the shot clock and usually results in a lower-percentage look that can be rushed. Oubre gets over the screen attempt by Kosta Koufas and never gives Gay an opportunity to turn any corners.
Again, Oubre doesn't reach-in for a cheap foul to bail him out.
This is an example of how a player can impact a game positively and make his team better without scoring.
Oubre had 10 points and 10 rebounds but none of these highlights involve a made basket. Only one is from the offensive side. Any scoring he does on top of this for the Wizards will be considered icing on the cake.
This is the kind of dirty work that Oubre will be judged by until he's ready for more responsibility.
If he does it, Brooks will keep him on the court.
If he doesn't do it, Oubre knows what will happen. Brooks may be a players' coach, but he won't hesitate to put him on the bench like he did in the loss to the Spurs. And he won't hold a grudge against a player for having a bad game by not giving him a chance to redeem himself, either.