Ever since his mid-season move last year from Washington to Phoenix, Kelly Oubre has blossomed into one of the best two-way forwards in the league. He has inspired the Suns with a culture change throughout the team, and has brought a new level of energy to a team that had faced criticisms of playing bored and unenergised.
His play this season has been even better than last year's promising end, increasing his impact alongside his team's win totals.
One part of his game which has developed immensely is his 3 point shooting, which has stemmed from an increased confidence in his stroke and more ease releasing his attempts. After shooting 32.5% from beyond the arc last season with the Suns, he has increased that to 36.8% on slightly more attempts per game.
Another part of his game which has grown is his mid-range, more so in attempts than in volume. He loves to take mid-range shots if he notices that there is not enough space to drive, opting to take short pull-ups to add more variety to his offense. He is shooting more mid-rangers from 10 feet or more than last year's stint in Phoenix, also shooting over 60% between 16 feet and the 3 point line. On mid-range shots as a whole, Oubre is shooting 45.6% and he already has significantly more attempts than the whole of last year.
One of the most exciting features of Oubre's game is his newfound ability to posterise everyone who comes near him, which has developed as a result of his fearless attitude and inviting contact when it comes. This is just a small piece of his interior presence, as he is a much more complicated finisher than just dunking over people.
He can finish comfortably with both hands, but has an outstanding accuracy on difficult shots where he is forced to finish over and around bigger defenders. He has a very good standing floater and anywhere inside 5 feet he is very good at finishing without using the glass. He tends to get blocked a lot, though, which has resulted in him having a less than impressive percentage in the restricted area, at just 57.6%, 2nd worst in the league out of players with over 250 attempts.
This season has been great, but he has played especially well since the turn of the new year. For comparison, before January the 1st and since then;
17.7 points, 6 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 45.1% from the field, 34.1% from 3, 33 games
21.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 47.5% from the field, 40.7% from 3, 17 games
Now, a lot of this statistical improvement has come from an increase in minutes over these two periods, but his efficiency has allowed for them to play him more, something that he struggled with throughout his entire career.
The issue is, over this 17 game stretch the Suns have only won 6 of the games, a problem which can be brought down to two things. Firstly, they have suffered an array of injuries which has completely shattered their already weak bench depth. And secondly, they have absolutely no consistency outside of Oubre and Booker, something which will continue to haunt them until they teach Deandre Ayton how to stop shooting mid-range jumpshots every second shot.
Oubre has been a catalyst for change over the 90 games he has played in a Suns uniform (despite the fact he has only won 29 of them), and this last month or so he has developed into a star like nobody could’ve foreseen. Can he keep it up over the rest of the season and lead them to some wins? It seems unlikely, unless he continues to shoot as well as he has from three, but Suns fans can certainly enjoy it while it lasts.