Kelly Oubre didn’t close Friday’s win vs. the Clippers. The question is: Will he keep opening them?
For now the answer is yes according to the man in charge of that. Steve Kerr said he is going to keep the uber struggling Oubre in the starting lineup for now.
“I don’t anticipate it,” Kerr said when asked if he’ll move Oubre to a bench role. “It’s so early in the season. I want Kelly (Oubre) to gain some rhythm and some confidence. He’s a proven player. He’s been doing this for years. He’ll get going.”
There is no doubt that Oubre will improve. He’s shooting 13.3 percent on 3-pointers through nine games. Last year he hit those at over 35 percent, over 32 percent for his career. Even if this is a down year for Oubre, it’s almost unfathomable this ineptitude from deep can last an entire season.
The question is: How long can the Warriors ride this out? Oubre was practically unplayable on Friday. The Warriors were outscored by 25 points in Oubre’s 21 minutes. When Oubre was pulled with a little more than three minutes to go in the third quarter, the Warriors were down by 20. Over the next 15 and a half minutes with Oubre sitting, the Warriors outscored the Clippers 52-22.
Oubre’s lack of shooting is exacerbated by a starting lineup that also two non-shooters in Draymond Green and James Wiseman. Even if Oubre was able to mitigate his struggles by finding other ways to score — something he is currently not doing — it does not eliminate the spacing issues for Stephen Curry, who against an effective trapping team like the Clippers, simply cannot generate open looks in the half court.
The counter argument for pulling Oubre right now is that who finishes the game is far more important than who starts it. If Kerr believes keeping Oubre with the starters is good for his confidence, he can minimize the damage by simply pulling him earlier, and slowly eliminating his minutes until he finds his form.
Oubre has a long enough track record of success in the NBA that he’s earned that right nine games in. If his struggles continue, however, it will be interesting to see how long that resume can keep him on the floor.