The admiration taht Kelly Oubre has for Russell Westbrook, who is on the verge of breaking the NBA record for triple-doubles in a season, comes from a distance. The second-year player doesn't appear to have any close personal ties to the Oklahoma City star, but he knows effort when he sees it and used it to best explain his own play in Tuesday's 118-111 win over the Charlotte Hornets.
"Russell Westbook," Oubre told CSNmidatlantic.com's Chris Miller after the game. "Straight up."
Oubre had 15 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench.
Quirky and into fashion, like Westbrook, Oubre can do peculiar things that draw chuckles. He also matches to his own beat, not worried about being different or conformity. Oubre understands that there's strength in just being himself -- and by himself, if necessary.
At 9:36 of the fourth quarter, he got Jeremy Lamb to bite an upfake during his drive and tumbled to the floor. Oubre then did a few pushups while there just because why not?
"If I see him out there doing what he does every night playing with an intense motor," Oubre said, "why can't I?"
It's that type of hustle why Oubre stayed in coach Scott Brooks' rotation despite his struggles early and at the mid-point. And it's that attitude why every player on the roster, during exit interviews after a 41-41 record landed them out of the playoffs a year ago, lobbied for more playing time for Oubre to majority owner Ted Leonsis.
The Wizards moved up in the 2015 draft to get Oubre, who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. At 6-7 with a 7-2 wingspan and an ability to defend both guard positions, too, he could prove to be a steal.
When he was acquired, president Ernie Grunfed said it would take the then-19-year-old Oubre about 2-3 years to develop. He might not have 41 triple-doubles like Westbrook, who is one shy of breaking Oscar Robertson's all-time record, but he's right on schedule and peaking at the perfect time as the playoffs draw near.