Kelly Oubre Jr. has been the most consistent mainstay for the Wizards' second unit this season. He, like many bench players, has found himself in Scott Brooks' doghouse at times, but for the most part has held steady the trust of the coaching staff throughout this season.
So, Oubre can probably speak more than anyone about the change that Washington's bench has undergone in the last few weeks. First, they got rim protector Ian Mahinmi back from injury. Then, they traded for forward and three-point marksman Bojan Bogdanovic. And now they have point guard Brandon Jennings ready to step in after signing a free agent deal on Wednesday.
Oubre is still in there, but around him there have been lots of changes.
"I feel like our bench is reformed a little bit, it's re-sculpted," Oubre said. "All year I've been trying to find my way. I've had ups and downs, but it's been a blessing to play with those guys on the second unit. I feel like we have built a lot of camaraderie throughout our ups and downs. But now that we have two key pieces with Bojan the scorer and Brandon the passer, and I can score a little bit and defend, we have Jason [Smith] and Ian; pretty much we have depth and size."
Even before Jennings jumped on board, the Wizards' bench was showing improvement. Despite ranking 29th this season as a group in minutes and points per game, the bench looked like a real strength on Wednesday in a win over the Toronto Raptors. Bogdanovic scored a game-high 27 points and hit six threes, Mahinmi had a season-high three blocks and Smith added eight points and five rebounds in 10 minutes.
The bench helped key a 26-3 run against the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference. All year the bench has struggled to maintain leads, now they can add to them.
"I feel like we're going to be tough to deal with. Once our starters take that rest, it's a whole new ballgame," Oubre said.
Oubre likes both of the two recent additions, Jennings and Bogdanovic. Even though the latter may affect his minutes as a guy who plays the same position, Oubre sees a player who he can co-exist with.
"I can play the two, three or four and he can play two through four, as well. We're very versatile. I don't like to categorize players on the basketball court. We're all basketball players at the end of the day. We have to get the job done. Playing with him or against him, it doesn't matter. I love to compete and he loves to compete, too. I'm glad he's on our side," Oubre said.
As for Jennings, Oubre thinks he can help infuse energy while the John Wall and the starters rest.
"Another lefty on the team," Oubre said, pointing out that he is not the only southpaw on the roster anymore. "Great passer. I grew up watching his highlights when he was in high school. I know what he's capable of and I'm excited to play with him. I saw what he did against us when he was in New York. He's a fast point guard, he loves to pass and he can score the ball. He's electrifying. I look forward to running with him and catching some lobs from him. He should help us get this playoff push."