Recent history suggests that coach Randy Wittman will bring along a rookie like Kelly Oubre slowly, if for no reason other than to make the 19-year old earn his stripes before getting on the court with a veteran team such as the Wizards.
But the 6-7 small forward has been raising eyebrows since training camp opened Tuesday, showing a three-point stroke that was absent during Las Vegas summer league play and an exceptional defensive IQ. And based on how he's talking -- he doesn't spell it out but strongly implies it -- he thinks he'll be a Rookie of the Year candidate.
"I have a chip on my shoulder even more now because throughout the whole process people were saying they questioned my work ethic so that's why they passed on me in the draft. The Washington Wizards got me and I'm going to make sure they got something that's going to be something serious," Oubre said in a 1-on-1 with CSN's Chris Miller during training camp this week. "I don't want anybody to question the things that I do or anything. Because I'm going to work, first and foremost. And I'm going to give it my all.
"I fell to 15 in the draft and I really took that hard. After the draft I came straight to D.C. and I was in the gym. That was just pure fire in my heart because I know there's not (14) guys better than me in my class at least. ... The cream rises to the top, and I'm the cream."
This means Oubre is certain that he's better than most of these guys: D'Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, Mario Hezonja, Willie Cauley-Stein, Frank Kaminsky, Myles Turner, Devin Booker, etc.
The preseason starts next week and Oubre will have a chance to get plenty of action with injuries to small forwards Jared Dudley (lower back) and Alan Anderson (left ankle).
"It's a lot to absorb and he's a smart kid," Wittman said after Friday's session at Verizon Center.
This isn't to imply that this season Oubre will leapfrog Otto Porter, a third-year forward who appears to be on another level himself, in the rotation. But long-term, Oubre could be a starter.
The Wizards were able to trade up from 19th in June's draft to make a deal for Oubre, who left Kansas after one season. They weren't alone. Several other NBA teams were trying to move up to get Oubre, widely considered a lottery-pick talent who fell just outside of it because his statistics didn't shout elite. But everything else about him -- skill set, athleticism and attitude -- suggests just that.
While Oubre hasn't been bashful about how highly he regards himself, he hasn't had any issues fitting in. He seems to know when to tune it down and listen.
"You don't have time on the floor to stop and think. That's the main thing right now. His head is probably spinning a little bit and he can't get his words out," Wittman said. "He's working. It happens to all of them, John Wall, Bradley Beal, they've all been in that position.
"We've got to continue to encourage him. You don't want to slow it down. You want to take him off (the floor), let him think. To be able to play at this level you've got to be able to do it on the run."
The night Oubre was acquired, Kansas assistant coach Kurt Townsend talked to CSNmidatlantic.com at length about him. The most poignant of his comments was in reference to how Oubre, despite being a top five player coming out of high school, handled being benched early in the season: "Kelly handled it unbelievably. Just started working hard, started to listen and it ended up working out for him."
The Wizards are deep at his position but it's an 82-game season. The veterans like Dudley, Anderson and Drew Gooden need to be fresh and rested come the playoffs. Coupled with the new emphasis on a faster-paced offense and going to smaller lineups, the need for more athletic players could put Oubre in a position that didn't seem likely months ago.
His first chance will come Tuesday in the preseason opener vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.