Here is your official Hoop District welcome to Washington, D.C., Kelly Oubre Jr.
Coach Randy Wittman and GM Ernie Grunfeld introduced the 19-year old as a Wizard on Friday afternoon and Oubre, who is what I like to call the product of a classic Grunfeldian move, spent a few minutes discussing his role as the newest member of the squad.
What’s a Grunfeldian move, you ask? Well, an example of one would be when for weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, you and many other fans and members of the media are scouting players that you feel would fill a glaring need. In the Wizards’ case this time around it was a stretch-4 we fantasized about, one who could not only bang down low, but also be versatile and mobile enough to run the floor swiftly and efficiently with John Wall. Bobby Portis, Trey Lyles and Kevon Looney were a few on many people’s lists. But there would be no way EG would be letting us call it a night without feeding us a little bit of shock value before we hit that light switch. And surely, that’s exactly what he did. The Wizards conducted a trade with the Atlanta Hawks to move up four spots to number 15 in a move that would guarantee them selecting the guy who had apparently been at the top of their list for weeks. They sacrificed two future 2nd round picks in the process. The decision also speaks heavily to the nature of Ernie Grunfeld as a general manager who completely refrains from talking to the media before the draft. This has been a trait of his forever. Here we are playing the role of keyboard scouts and Internet geniuses of sports, all the while we weren’t even close. Shit, Oubre wasn’t even featured in our draft preview. We might as well just shut it all down.
Grunfeld on Oubre: he was the highest rated player on our board. – on how he felt with other guys slated in mocks dropping
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) June 26, 2015
Sike no we won’t.
Back to the presser.
Sandwiched in between the Wizards brass rocking a grey suit accompanied by a green, navy and white plaid button up and polka-dot tie, with eyeglasses that may or may not have been prescribed, Oubre took the mic to explain his goals and intentions as a professional basketball player. For your convenience, I’ve supplied you with video content.
Oubre on his desire to help make the Wizards a “winning program” and his vow to never become a “problem”.
Regarding his glaring confidence which can often be decoded as borderline – or full-fledged – cockiness depending on the scale of your PC-ness, Oubre simply said that his character attributes to the “chip on his shoulder”. I tend to enjoy chips on shoulders. I tend to enjoy most types of chips, actually. But I like chips on shoulders because they usually entail someone is “working their butt off”, as Kelly eloquently put it, to prove themselves to the world and to their teammates, and most of all, they’re working their butt off to be a winner, or in Kelly’s choice terms last night, a “jewel”.
Oubre said the main areas for improvement for him is his ball handling and maintaining control in pressure situations. He also said he wants to help take as much pressure off John Wall and Bradley Beal as he can by becoming an all-around, complete player.
Oubre acknowledges he has plenty to work on, and that containing his high confidence to not rub any proven veterans the wrong way is important.
I asked Kelly about his familiarity with John Wall and his excitement for playing alongside him. In doing so, I also realized to my dismay that I suck really bad at conducting interviews and trying to maintain control of the iPhone 6 Plus I’m using to record the interview at the same time. Hence, the video turned out as if Oubre’s presser was being held during a ‘Cloverfield’ attack. Luckily, though, I’ve maintained my typing skills. And here is what Kelly had to say about Wall, via words:
“Fast; can score at will, but he also passes the ball. He can get guys shots by getting to the paint and manipulate a game, you know, because he’s so fast and he can handle the rock. I just know that he can make look good, and it’s my job to help him and take some pressure off his shoulders.”
So there you have it. Obviously words can only tell so much and they are not nearly enough to gauge the future as it pertains to Oubre’s development. But he’s certainly expressed his awareness of what it takes to be in the big leagues and seemingly understands what the expectations are. Oubre is by no means anything less than a project. At just the cute age of 19, he is about as raw as they get, and it’s up to him and the team that has employed him to get his development underway so that we may enjoy its fruition.
After all, “it’s time now, it’s time to give this city what it deserves.” Let’s get it.