Every successful team is primarily built upon a collection of talented players that fit well within the system their coach runs. You need a strong blueprint and the talent to execute each piece of that blueprint well. But what if the blueprint doesn’t work? What if you hit a snag and the pieces aren’t fitting together well, or the system is weak against a specific matchup and failing? In that case, it’s always helpful to have a player like Kelly Oubre.
Oubre isn’t exactly conventionally good. Not yet, at least. The third-year wing for the Washington Wizards is averaging just 11.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in 27.7 minutes, mostly off the bench. He’s shooting just 41.7 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from 3, and the Wizards actually get slightly worse when Oubre is on the floor this year. He’s drastically improved from last year, but he’s still not reliable by any convention, especially when compared to his battery mate, Otto Porter.
However, Oubre is firmly entrenched as a League Pass Favorite, and he’s still an effective player at times for the Wizards. That’s because he breaks the mold of the Wizards’ blueprint. He may not be consistent, but against certain matchups, he breaks the format and gives the Wizards an extra jolt of energy, even if it doesn’t always come via the cleanest method. If you’re familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, he’s firmly Chaotic Good. If that doesn’t make sense to you, please refer to our Handy NBA Alignment Chart.
Oubre doesn’t fit convention, but he comes up in big moments in specific matchups for Washington. That comes up both when the ball is live and dead. For instance, he dropped 26 points on Detroit to give Washington their lone win in a five-game stretch in January. He also raced to the aid of Bradley Beal during his early season skirmish with Draymond Green, and his heart was in the right place – even if it was questionable which side he did more damage to.
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Oubre brings positivity and energy to the Wizards’ lineups, even if he’s a little funky in the ways that the help comes. He’s the team’s firecracker, backing up the trash-talking from Beal and John Wall by being the first man in the face of an opponent that gets fed up. He feuded with Kelly Olynyk last season, and has been the first responder in Wizards’ dust-ups with Green, Jared Dudley, Michael Carter-Williams, Kent Bazemore, and Bismack Biyombo over the past few seasons.
But he does more than get involved in dust-ups. He’s a capable defender and burgeoning 3-point shooter as well (complete with a signature celebration sure to rile opponents up), and while he’s only in the 41st percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, his attacking style is fun, as he relies heavily on hesitation moves to create separation and often finishes with his off-hand after he’s gotten fully under the rim.
Oubre also is a fearless attacker off drives, with enough of a handle to get an edge and drop the hammer on an opposing defense. That alone makes him worth the watch, because any time you can see a bench player put a defender on skates, and then throw down on an uncontested rim, it’s a quality viewing experience.
The chaotic good personality comes out on these attempts too, because he’s not shy about trying this even when it’s probably ill-advised — such as when Giannis Antetokounmpo is his challenger at the rim……
This is the Oubre experience — usually helpful, sometimes harmful. His intentions are good, he just sometimes can’t get out of his own way. That comes with being absolutely fearless on the court, and playing in a way that doesn’t promote consistency, but is absolutely necessary to give his team the edge it needs to get through tough times. That’s the benefit of a chaotic good player — three or four times out of ten he’s going to doom you, but the other six or seven, he’s what you need, and his intent is infectious to those around him.
He also is a League Pass Favorite off the court, as well. Part of being chaotic good is bringing a little flair to the table to keep the locker room lax and the pressure off your stars. Oubre fits that mold beautifully, too. He’s a must follow player off the court, for everything from his very public love of the arts to his charity work to his NSFW pregame apparel to his recent openness about his mental health struggles. He’s a player who goes against the grain on the court, and he supplements that by being a genuinely unique personality as well. Oubre marches to the beat of his own drummer, and that’s what makes him both an X-Factor for the Wizards, and a must-follow NBA League Pass Favorite.