Kelly Oubre Jr. talking a big game before his NBA career even begins
The newest Kansas basketball player to join the ranks of the NBA, Kelly Oubre Jr. doesn’t appear to care about making any friends before his first season.
The Washington Wizards acquired the one-and-done small forward on draft night from Atlanta, and since describing himself as a jewel during ESPN’s live coverage, the brash 19-year-old hasn’t let up.
Fourteen different organizations passed on Oubre before Atlanta took him for Washington at No. 15. According to the 6-foot-7 wing (who didn’t call any of his fellow draftees out by name), he is a better player than No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, No. 2 pick D’Angleo Russell, No. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor and so on, and so on.
“I have confidence in myself, so I believed that I was a top-10 pick from the get-go,” Oubre said in a piece from The Washington Post’s Scott Allen. “I don’t think that there’s 15 guys, or however many guys, that are better than me.”
Added the newest Wizard:
“A lot of guys that went in front of me, I know I’m better than.”
According to The Post, Oubre at least said in a Monday radio interview that he has respect for some specific players selected before him: Minnesota’s Towns, Philadelphia’s Okafor and Detroit’s No. 8 pick, Stanley Johnson.
Then he went right back to talking a big game:
“It’s a kill or be killed world, and I feel like I can do a lot of killing in this world.”
Oubre couldn’t resist himself on Washington’s 106.7 The Fan.
“I’m a competitor. I’m not going to say another guy’s better than me, because I don’t feel that way,” he continued. “I’m not going to say something I don’t feel. They’re great players, don’t get me wrong.”
Keep in mind all of this came a few days after he said the following when asked about his relationship with Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the 2013-14 NBA MVP:
“We’re competitors,” he said. “I’m not enamored with who he is. That’s Kevin Durant, but I’m Kelly Oubre.”
It seems the more Oubre talks, the less his peers — and ample pool of superiors — will find themselves enamored with him. He could’ve entered the league quiet, humble and hungry. At some point in the past few months, he decided to take another route.
Talking himself up to this extent wouldn’t even go over well if Oubre left college as a can’t-miss prospect. He’s far from that.
In his one season with the Jayhawks, Oubre averaged 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds in 36 games, while making 44.4 percent of his shot attempts and 35.8% of his 3-pointers (34-for-95). A bad season? No. But he wasn’t exactly impressing decision-makers at the next level, either.
Oubre’s time at KU and how his game translates to the NBA both came up in a post-draft Grantland podcast from ESPN’s Ryen Russillo and Chad Ford. According to draft insider Ford, some scouts came away from watching Oubre at Kansas and asked, “What exactly does he do well again?”
One NBA general manager, after seeing how much the svelte perimeter player with the 7-foot-2 wingspan got by on raw athletic ability and instincts, went so far as to describe Oubre to Ford as a “basketball illiterate.”
However, Ford travelled out to Santa Barbara, California, before the draft to see Oubre and other top prospects as they trained at the popular P3 facility. Ford left impressed with Oubre’s dedication to improvement, which included three-a-day training sessions and basketball video breakdowns at night.
While Ford predicted a “rocky start” for Oubre as a rookie, he thinks his future could look a lot brighter — if he continues to put in the requisite work.
“If he develops,” Ford said, “the Wizards got an absolute steal at 15.”
On Monday, Oubre responded to the “basketball illiterate” comment during his radio appearance on The Sports Junkies.
“That’s people’s opinion. People don’t know me. People don’t know the things that I do,” the rookie-to-be said. “I’ve been a basketball player for a very long time and I’ve always watched the game. … I love the game of basketball, and I study the game of basketball, so I’m definitely a gym rat.”
If Oubre wants to one day live up to all of his own propaganda, the gym would be a great place to start, because each of the 14 players drafted ahead of him — and any veteran who finds him a little too cocky — will go out of his way to remind the Wizards rookie of how far he has to go.
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