It wasn’t long ago that Warriors guard Kelly Oubre Jr. said he could do much more than come off the bench. So what did coach Steve Kerr do?
He put Oubre on the bench, of course.
Kerr had an excuse, however, with Oubre coming off a lingering left wrist injury and the Warriors playing well with G Kent Bazemore in the starting lineup.
Oubre’s statement about how much he’s capable of came after Kerr suggested that Oubre could be a key reserve on Golden State’s hypothetical roster next season. That’s highly hypothetical, with Oubre slated to hit free agency after the current campaign.
Kerr is smart to place Oubre in the roll he’d like to see him in next season, should Oubre choose to re-sign with the Warriors. Though again, Kerr said the move was strictly about keeping Bazemore in the starting lineup. Currently, however, Bazemore is out due to health protocols, and Kerr opted to place G Mychal Mulder in the opening lineup rather than reinsert Oubre as starter.
But even taking Kerr at his word, the side benefit to placing Oubre on the bench is glaring.
Kerr wants Oubre as a reserve because he thinks it will work, obviously, so why wait? If it works as well as planned, perhaps Oubre will want to stick around, most likely for less money than he’d get elsewhere, by the way.
Thus far, it’s working. In Oubre’s first three games coming off the bench, he averaged 18.7 points on 48.7 percent shooting including 41.7 percent from 3-point range, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 blocks, per the San Francisco Chronicle. In the Warriors’ win against the Kings on Sunday, Oubre scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds, making big plays late.
Oubre’s recent run doesn’t mean he’ll choose to remain in the Bay Area. But it might help. What if Oubre realizes he can be the next Andre Iguodala? Oubre Jr. fits the profile — a hawk on defense and athletic enough to catch sudden passes from forward Draymond Green on offense.
It’s just crazy enough to work, and it’s a great development for Kerr and the Warriors’ brass. While it’s a longshot, so is the prospect of signing Oubre in general. In the meantime, he’s helping the team win now, and that’s all you can really ask.
(Photo credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)