Wizards

Wizards

Weeks ago, before the Wizards pulled off a trade for forward Bojan Bogdanovic to boost the depth on their bench, several members of the organization approached second-year swingman Kelly Oubre, Jr. with a question.

"A lot of people came up to me and asked me if I hit a wall before the All-Star break," he said.

His teammate John Wall even brought it up publicly in an interview with CSN's Chris Miller following the Bogdanovic trade.

"I think it was a great [All-Star] break for Kelly… because he kind of hit the rookie wall, even though he didn't get to play as much last year," Wall said.

It was one day later that head coach Scott Brooks openly yearned for a "better version" of Oubre, a guy who earlier this season was the most consistent fixture on Brooks' bench while waves of changes were made around him. 

Now that major adjustments have been made to the roster itself, with the trade for Bogdanovic and the signing of point guard Brandon Jennings, Oubre has been among the biggest casualties. Before the Bogdanovic trade, he averaged 20.7 minutes through 53 games. Since, he's averaged just 11.7 minutes in 11 games and that stretch includes just :39 seconds of garbage time against the Timberwolves on Monday. On Wednesday, he didn't play at all against the Mavericks.

The playing time has all of a sudden dried up entirely for the 2015 first round pick out of Kansas.

 

"I never really thought I did [hit a wall], but looking back at it now, I was a little fatigued, man. Mentally and physically," Oubre said. "All year I've been pretty much trying to find my way. I've had ups and downs... Now I've gotten a little rest and the second half of the season is up, there is more focus on the playoff push, obviously. I'm just trying to end my sophomore season off with a bang."

As Brooks has shown this season, just because a player is out of his favor at one point doesn't mean they are banished for good, and vice versa. He makes some of his decisions based on things the media and others do not see in practice. It can make his line of thinking hard to predict.

As for what Oubre needs to get back into the mix, it all comes back to a common theme for him: focus and discipline.

"More discipline, man. I have all the talent. I have all the skills," Oubre said. "I work on it every day. I just gotta continue to remain disciplined and try to follow the right reps and do things the right way every time. Just continue to get better. I've been watching a lot of film, staying in the gym and trying to work on my craft."

Oubre offers no ill-will towards anyone or any part of his situation. He thinks he can eventually play with Bogdanovic and within the new structure of the Wizards' roster.

"We're very versatile. I don't like to categorize people on the basketball court," Oubre said of the logjam at small forward. "We're all basketball players at the end of the day. We have to get the job done. Playing with [Bogdanovic] or playing against him, it doesn't matter. I just love to compete and he loves to compete, too. I'm glad he's on our side."

Oubre, 21, is looking forward to playing in the postseason for the first time this spring, no matter what role he will be in. It will be a new experience for him after the Wizards missed the playoffs during his rookie season.

For now, he has to wait his turn and improve in the best ways he can, on the practice court and in the film room.

"I feel like I have a lot of talent that people will really be in awe about. I just have to continue to stay consistent and be me," he said.

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