Quick Links

Film study: How Kelly Oubre can be an impact player until his offense catches up

Film study: How Kelly Oubre can be an impact player until his offense catches up

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"


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 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. 

Quick Links

Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4


Former Wizards Mike Scott, Jared Dudley deliver the drama in Sixers-Nets Game 4

The 76ers-Nets playoff series has been wild from the start, but the trash talk and physical play reached the next level in the Sixers' Game 4 victory Sunday. 

The contest featured two ejections as well as a game-deciding shot with 19.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter. In the middle of it all? None other than Jared Dudley and Mike Scott, who played for the Wizards in 2015-16 and 2017-18, respectively. 

Tensions between Dudley and the Sixers had been simmering since he slammed Ben Simmons in the media after Game 1.

With 7:42 left in the third quarter Saturday, Joel Embiid committed a flagrant foul on Jarrett Allen under the basket. An incensed Dudley shoved Embiid, prompting Jimmy Butler to push Dudley away.

When Simmons to try to separate the two, he and Dudley got tangled up and tumbled into the front-row seats. Both Dudley and Butler were ejected on the spot. 

The Nets held a 67-61 advantage when Dudley and Butler were tossed, but that lead dwindled to one point with under a minute left to go. 

Brooklyn made the mistake of leaving Scott open in the corner, where Embiid set him up for a go-ahead three-pointer with 19.7 seconds remaining.

A pair of Tobias Harris free throws sealed the Sixers' 112-108 win, putting them up 3-1 in the series. Scott and company can finish off Dudley's squad in Game 5 on Tuesday. 

In the meantime, listen as Scott goes 1-on-1 with Chris Miller in the latest Wizards Talk Podcast. 


Quick Links

Enormity of the Wizards’ offseason and long-term future will hinge on the May 14 Draft Lottery


Enormity of the Wizards’ offseason and long-term future will hinge on the May 14 Draft Lottery

With the 2018-19 season in the rearview for the Washington Wizards, we at NBC Sports Washington are analyzing the five biggest questions of what should be the most consequential offseason they have had in years...


Though the Washington Wizards made some poor decisions to create the mess their next general manager will need to clean up, they have also been struck with a good deal of bad luck. John Wall falling in his home and rupturing his Achilles tendon certainly qualifies. Dwight Howard suffering a relapse with his back and requiring surgery to repair a herniated disc was out of their control. And if Bradley Beal makes All-NBA and qualifies for a supermax this summer, the timing would not be ideal as far as their finances are concerned.

The Wizards have long been one of the most snakebitten franchises in sports and even stand out in a city where curses are often blamed for sports misery. They could use some luck for a change and especially on the night of May 14.

That's when the 2019 NBA draft lottery will take place in Chicago, Ill. ESPN will broadcast the event live at 8:30 p.m. as the ping-pong balls fly through the air, determining the order for the June 20 draft and therefore the future of the league.

The Wizards will for the first time since 2013 have high stakes in the lottery. They had finished with at least a .500 record for five straight seasons before bottoming out in 2018-19. But their 32-50 record this past season gave them the sixth-best lottery odds and, in the first year under new lottery rules, that has left them in excellent shape ahead of May 14.

The Wizards lottery odds will break down pick-by-pick like this:

1st - 9.0%

2nd - 9.2%

3rd - 9.4%

4th - 9.6%

5th - N/A

6th - 8.6%

7th - 29.6%

8th - 20.6%

9th - 3.8%

10th - 0.2%

The two most important numbers to consider are nine and 37.2. They have a nine percent chance at the first overall pick and a 37.2 percent shot at selecting in the top four.

The Wizards' nine percent odds at No. 1 are only five ticks lower than the top teams in lottery odds, the Knicks, Cavs and Suns who are tied at 14 percent. Though their chances are still less than one-in-ten, that means they will be very much in the mix to land the ultimate prize, Duke forward Zion Williamson.

Williamson would change everything for the team that drafts him, but perhaps especially for the Wizards, considering the alternative direction their franchise could go. They already fired their general manager and have an uncertain future with their head coach Scott Brooks and arguably with their best player, Beal, as well. They appear to be teetering on the brink of a rebuild and Williamson could jumpstart them into the other direction.

No draft prospect, maybe with the exception of LeBron James in 2003, offers guarantees. Williamson could top out as a good, but not great player. But few who have dominated college basketball quite like he did have then failed to live up to the hype. Consider the fact he is only the third freshman ever to win the Naismith award for NCAA's best player. The other two were Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant.

One NBA front office executive told NBC Sports Washington he believes Williamson will be an All-Star as a rookie and not just because of fan voting. He has superstar potential, both from a production and marketing standpoint. Williamson would likely step right in as at least the Wizards' second-best healthy player and as the face of their franchise, the player most associate them with.

Landing the top pick is not the only way May 14 can result in a success for the Wizards. Jumping into the top four would be a major victory, especially in this year's draft which appears to be top-heavy. That could mean a chance to draft Ja Morant of Murray State or R.J. Barrett, Williamson's teammate at Duke. 

Barrett would be a nice fit alongside Beal and Wall when he returns from injury. He complements them positionally and has All-Star potential.

If Morant is the best player on the board, the Wizards should take him. But doing so would create a brand new storyline of how he would co-exist with Wall, who plays the same position. That dynamic would be hard to ignore for as long as they are together in the organization.

Though the Wizards have a better than one-in-three shot at the top four, their two most likely landing spots are No. 7 and 8 overall. If the Wizards did not make a major jump in the lottery, they may be wise to trade back and acquire more picks. They do not have a second round pick this year and not until 2023. They also have roster spots to fill and could use more young (and cheap) players.

The Wizards may not have to trade back very far to stock their cupboard with more picks. Last June, the Hawks got a lightly-protected first round pick from the Mavericks for going back from No. 3 to No. 5. The Sixers traded back from 10th to 16th with the Suns and scooped the Miami Heat's unprotected 2021 first round pick.

In a draft that most consider to not be deep outside of the top four or five picks, the Wizards may not see a huge difference in the eight pick and, say, selecting 12th. And that could be the key to getting another first or a collection of second round picks.

There are so many scenarios for the Wizards that all depend on their luck on May 14. Who they choose to send as their representative will be interesting. Will it be Beal, who right now is their biggest star? How about Wall, who was the first overall pick in 2010 and would be able to impact the franchise in an indirect way despite his long-term injury absence? It could also be whomever they hire as their new GM, or someone in the ownership group.

The Wizards, like the 13 other teams in the lottery, will be hoping for a blessing from the basketball gods.