If you’ve ever wondered why some players, no matter how talented, seem to bounce around from team to team like a ping pong ball, I present to you Kelly Oubre Jr. Oubre signed with the Charlotte Hornets in the offseason, making them his fourth team since he entered the NBA in 2015.
We need to look no further than this play from Charlotte’s game Friday night against the New York Knicks. The Hornets were up by seven points with 40 seconds remaining in regulation, Oubre got the ball in the corner with 17 seconds on the shot clock, and proceeded to jack up a three-point shot that was nowhere close to going in the basket. A camera pans to Hornets owner Michael Jordan’s box as he can be seen visibly outraged at Oubre for taking the shot and not running out more of the clock.
The Hornets were able to hold on to the victory and beat the Knicks 104-96, but this could have potentially turned into overtime quickly had New York been able to hit a couple of shots down the stretch. But that whole sequence highlights just one of the reasons for Oubre being shipped from team to team. There is a lack of self and court awareness and a pattern of not realizing what the situation calls for during specific points in a game.
Golden State felt the same frustrations as Jordan when Oubre played in 55 games for them last season. I’ll give him credit as he is shooting the ball much better from the 3-pt range this year at 38.7 percent as opposed to 31.6 percent in Golden State. Maybe shooting next to Stephen Curry just makes most players seem worse than they actually are. But then Oubre will go and score 37 points off the bench like he did a couple of nights before the Knicks game, breaking the Hornets franchise record for points off the bench. But I knew Oubre’s days with the Warriors were numbered once he hinted at not wanting to come off the bench behind Klay Thompson once he returned. Once again that lack of self-awareness rears its ugly head.
It’s not that Oubre is a bad player; he’s averaging 14 ppg this year in Charlotte and posted 15ppg with the Warriors last year. But those ‘WTF’ moments that you just know he’s going to have can really dilute his contributions to any game, no matter how many points he’s scored. That’s where Jordan’s frustration likely comes from, because Oubre is so talented. Still, he’s constantly skipping over some of the smaller details needed to be great in any professional sport. Simply knowing and recognizing the situation, then knowing what to do or not to do in those situations.
Attention to detail is what keeps many players from excelling to higher levels as professionals. Although we compare the late Kobe Bryant to Jordan, he was never as athletic as Jordan, but I think we’d all rank Bryant’s basketball IQ up there with some of the all-time greats, including His Airness. The attention to every little detail that’s what separates good from great and the great from the all-time greats.