In Kelly Oubre Jr., Charlotte Hornets adds explosive defensive presence on the wing

Raise your hand if you had Kelly Oubre Jr. being the Charlotte Hornets’ biggest free agent signing of the 2021 offseason.

Ah, no one is raising their hand. I thought so.

The Hornets needed to add depth on the wing behind Gordon Hayward; this depth coin was not expected to sign one of the best free agent wings on the market for a two-year team friendly deal, $ 24.6 million with a partial warranty for the second year , but here we are. Oubre Jr. – more commonly known as T $ unami Papi – and his explosive athleticism, creating defensive events, and supreme shooting confidence have found a landing spot in the Queen City. What exactly Will he provide the Hornets, however?

This is where the nice folks at At The Hive come in. This piece will be heavily clip-loaded and will focus on what are, in my opinion, Oubre Jr.’s best traits: athleticism, high energy, and well-balanced defense.

Let’s start with the basics; Who will the Hornets now ask to check on the opposing team’s leading scorer on average night? Probably Oubre Jr. He is 6ft 7in, 203lb with a 7ft 3in wingspan, possessing the ideal frame and athletic traits of a perimeter defender in the modern NBA as a player who takes off quickly and has great strength. length to disrupt ball carriers and shooters.

With about seven seconds left in the quarter against the Wizards, Oubre Jr. is logoed against passer Russell Westbrook. As soon as the ball is thrown, he locates the receiver and covers a ton of ground before blocking the shot with just under five seconds on the clock. Oubre Jr. covers the floor well, flips his hips to change direction quickly, and obviously can stand up. The Hornets like to play fast, so this type of open-field defensive play will come in handy.

Here he is well positioned, communicating with Stephen Curry and keeping an eye on the ball and his man in the corner. As soon as PJ Dozier dives towards the edge, Oubre Jr. is already in place to challenge the shot. His hands are close to the ball, he makes contact and uses his length and vertical to slap the backboard layup attempt. A percentage of 1.2 blocks in 2020-2021 ranked in the 91st percentile among wings by Cleaning The Glass.

There is a little more going on in this clip against the Kings. Oubre Jr. sits in the middle with Draymond Green and Kevon Looney away from the paint, and it’s hard not to feel that he has some presence as an inside defender and rim protector. Green helps out by emphasizing the spin, but again, Oubre Jr. is well placed and perfectly timed his jump to block Glenn Robinson III’s shot.

Isaiah Stewart is one of the best youngsters in the NBA and Oubre Jr. sort of had lunch here. He is pushed back one step by the 250-pound Stewart, but he accommodates the back-and-forth movement and blocks the shot as soon as he goes up. The best / funniest part of the clip is when he does a push-up to get up off the ground at the very beginning.

This clip, combined with the previous two, makes me think that Oubre Jr. has some potential as a little foursome with Charlotte. Last season with Golden State, he played 565 possessions as a four and the Warriors’ defense gave up 112.3 points per 100 possessions during that span, ranking in the 60th percentile of all formations in the league according to Cleaning The Glass.

Okay, a few more defensive highlights and we’ll move on to the fun stuff.

Jerami Grant is a good player, I think we would all agree on that. Oubre Jr. keeps him honest by standing in the fence, walls him up and forces him to change direction, stays at his hip on the counter movement, and doesn’t even give Grant a chance to float one au- above Looney. He weighs only 203 pounds, but I think he’s such a confident and aggressive defender that he’s harder to move than his weight suggests.

Another guy we all decided to be a good basketball player; Julius Randle. Randle is essentially a human bowling ball on the field, and his development as a stroke maker and passer saw him make the All-NBA third team last season.

Here he gets a clean tear from the grip and takes his first step, but Oubre Jr. slips his feet the whole time and stays in front of the reader despite Randle’s shoulder planted in his chest. As soon as the ball is brought in front of him, he slides it in to steal it (you also have to love the taunt in Randle’s face at the end, too). According to Cleaning The Glass, Oubre ranked in the 68th percentile among wings with a 1.5 steal percentage last season.

Okay, that’s enough defense for today (* crowd cheers *). Before I get into Oubre Jr.’s offensive game, I’d like to examine inconsistent 3-point shooting throughout his career.

He started last season shooting 7-51 3P in his first 10 games. It’s not a start to the season to say the least, and I’m sure Kelly would be among the first to say so. Every shooter goes through crises, however, and Oubre Jr. made a difference during his year in San Francisco.

He has never shot above the league average (36.7% in 2020-21) from a 3-point range, although he approached it in his full season with Phoenix. in 2019-20, hitting 35.2% of his three compared to the league average 35.8%. At this point he’s more of a shooter in theory than in practice, but it’s important to have the confidence and comfort to shoot open triples within an attack, especially in a three-focused system. and diapers like Charlotte’s.

Pieces like these are what Hornets fans can expect if Oubre Jr.’s shot remains inconsistent (which isn’t a guarantee, his rider could find his rhythm in Charlotte). Active defense around the perimeter, smart spins, timely digs at the ball handler, and lots of fuss that leads to a quick-breaking bucket on the other end. Right now, 37% of his shots are edge placement attempts with 36% being 3-point shots and the remaining 27% being mid-range shots by Cleaning The Glass.

The Hornets have a few shooters, whereas the Warriors only had Curry last season (calling Curry just “a shooter” feels so bad) as a real ground gap threat. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this division lean a bit more into edge shots than the three and middle ranks next season, given LaMelo Ball’s ability to find open cutters.

Do we all know a playmaker who likes to throw a free kick frequently on a shot like the one Juan Toscano-Anderson throws here? I think we do. Oubre Jr. likes to score, so he usually has his head held high looking for the ball in transition. I have a feeling the LaMelo-to-Kelly chemistry in transition will rival that of the AirBnB duo.

There is nothing special about it, but it’s the little things in life that matter. Oubre Jr. makes a nice quick cut with Andrew Wiggins backing Trey Burke on the left block and even though he doesn’t get the ball back he keeps the game alive and tries to tip it on the rebound. He plays with energy and crushes glass hard at both ends, which is a vital part of the Hornets’ rebound philosophy; Regardless of a player’s position, he must exert effort to crush the boards.

Let’s put that aside; Oubre Jr. has a negative assists-to-turnover ratio for his career (400 assists, 430 turnovers), and to be blunt, that’s pretty bad for a winger / striker with a use rate of 20, 3% in career. His assist percentage has consistently ranked in the bottom fifth of the league wings throughout his career and there is little in his game that lends itself to making plays for his teammates in the half court.

With the Hornets, Oubre Jr. shouldn’t be more than a game finisher who can sometimes do outdoor readings like the one in the clip above – Ball, Hayward, Miles Bridges, Ish Smith and PJ Washington can do the heavy work. He’s not a “bad passer” in terms of technique and ability, he’s just not wired for it and to his credit, he’s not throwing ridiculous passes at teammates who don’t. are not open. It stays pretty much in itself.

Phew. I think we are done here for today. This is by no means a total synthesis of what Kelly Oubre Jr. can provide for the Hornets this coming season, but hopefully it has highlighted some of the attributes that best fit his new squad. . It’s still hard to believe Charlotte landed a coveted wing who is only 25 on a friendly contract and doesn’t even come here to start. Things are getting better around here, guys!

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