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Charlotte Hornets NBA Draft Preview: Kelly Oubre

Kelly Oubre is a player with a high ceiling, but how likely is he to reach it?

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Kelly Oubre, the 6'7" swingman out of Kansas, may not have the accolades many of his peers in this year's NBA Draft do. While he was a McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American in 2014, he did not earn any big awards during his one-year stint at Kansas. Still, Oubre is an enticing prospect, especially for the Charlotte Hornets.

Despite being 6'7" with a slight 203-pound frame, Oubre sports an absolutely massive 7'2" wingspan. He's also just 19 years old, and his steady growth over the last few years suggests he's far from a finished product. However, Oubre's a bit of a mixed bag. Perhaps it's more to do with his age than anything else, but his talent is often overshadowed by his inconsistency on both ends of the floor.

Oubre's Jayhawks were booted from the NCAA tournament by a considerably weaker Wichita State team that handed Kansas a 78-65 loss. Oubre played 23 minutes in that game, and his effort level was admirable. He contributed nine points, five rebounds, and a steal, but fouled out with just over a minute left in the game.

Measurements and statistics
Height with shoes Weight Wingspan Standing reach Body fat Max vertical
6'6.5" 203 7'2.25" 8'6.5" 5.7% 37"

No surprises here. Oubre is a physical specimen at the small forward spot. The only knock on him is his weight, but at 19 years old there is plenty of time to bulk up.

Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks FG% 3P% FT% Turnovers
21.0 9.3 5.0 0.8 1.1 0.4 44.4 35.8 71.8 1.2

All statistics are per game.

Once again, Oubre's statistics are impressive considering his role and minutes at Kansas. Five rebounds in 21 minutes per game for a small forward is excellent. And his mark of two steals per 40 minutes is no joke, either.


Let's start with the obvious: Oubre's physical attributes are impressive. His length and athleticism are great for a player his size, and if he can put on weight at the NBA level, he's destined to stay in the league for a long time. Length has become tremendously important to general managers and coaches, and for good reason. On offense, it allows a player to finish his shot higher and avoid blocks in traffic. On defense, it increases the likelihood of a player getting a steal or block, makes it easier to recover to shooters, and often acts as a deterrent to opposing teams and players. Luckily, Oubre not only has great length, but he uses it well, too.

The bulk of Oubre's steals are much like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's: He's either appeared out of nowhere with a full head of steam and grabbed a sloppy pass or he's stripped a player preparing to shoot. He's also a decent defender when committed, as he's quite quick on his feet in addition to that gargantuan wingspan. This should allow him to guard positions one through three with relative ease, and even the occasional four should he put on 20-30 pounds.

Offensively, Oubre shows immense potential. His mark of 35.8 percent shooting on 3-pointers – of which he attempted 2.6 per game – is promising. He has a tendency to drop his right shoulder a bit, but overall his shooting form is fluid and his touch is good. His ability to shoot 3-pointers should translate fairly well to the NBA, and should he get the hours in and work out the few kinks in his shot, his value will increase considerably.

He's not particularly adept at creating his own shot at this point, but he has shown some promise there as well. While his handle isn't great, it's able to create space when a defender is already on his heels. Oubre's quick, but his handle can slow him down at times, especially when he goes to his right hand. Apparently he's been working hard to address this since his season at Kansas ended, so it's possible his handle is much improved since we last saw it.


The majority of Oubre's weaknesses are mental in nature.

The main knock on him is that he rarely plays with a consistent level of effort. He sometimes lost his man on defense while focusing on the ball handler, which allowed a fair number of layups and 3-pointers off of backdoor cuts and simple down screens. His consistency issues extended to his offense as well, as Oubre often settled for mediocre pull-ups and moving, contested 3-pointers instead of going all the way to the basket or passing out. Luckily, these things are often attributed to immaturity and inexperience, and being 19 years old, it's likely he will grow out of those bad habits in time.

His aforementioned handle could also use work. Oubre is notorious for going to his strong hand, even when he's already crossed over to his weak one. His dribble is also a bit high, and this slows him down when he decides to drive to the basket. He may be relegated to cutting and shooting open 3-pointers in the NBA as a result. However, he might end up with a handful of highlight plays at the rim in his rookie season. Oubre is a lefty, and that can catch defenders off-guard, especially considering the NBA has the fewest number of lefties it's had in many years. But for a defender that knows the scouting report, Oubre is any easy target.

He also desperately needs to fill out his frame. Oubre's potential will never be fully realized if he remains at 200-205 pounds. Even when Oubre's handle allowed him to get to the rim, he only shot 53 percent there. Often, Oubre would try a finesse layup around contact rather than go into it, and this left many attempts short. Even when he did go straight at a defender, his momentum would be stopped when he made contact. And if he's ever to maximize his ability as a defender, being able to guard the NBA's bigger swingmen and smaller forwards should be a priority. To do that, he'll need to add at least 15 pounds. Probably more.

Fit with the Hornets

Oubre fits the mold of what the Hornets have looked for in recent years: players with excellent physical attributes that simply need some development to be effective NBA players. Oubre is a bit further from being NBA-ready than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller were in their first years, but he's definitely ahead of where Noah Vonleh was.

If Oubre pans out defensively, he would give the Hornets the best pair of wing defenders in the league by a substantial margin. Kidd-Gilchrist is already an elite defender in every sense, and Oubre guarding the smaller/weaker offensive wing player would be downright scary for an opposing team. And, if his 3-point shot is legit, he mitigates some of the spacing issues that playing Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson together created.

On the other hand, if Oubre's unable to develop his body and handle and retains the same level of basketball IQ, then he's a bust. It's that simple. He's not a good enough shooter to warrant major minutes if he can't play smart, so addressing Oubre's shot selection and effort level should be a top priority for the Hornets.

Because if he puts it all together, he's probably a star in a few years. It's all on him.

Mock drafts

Oubre's stock has been falling lately, but he's still projected to be picked in the mid to late lottery.

Source Projection
Draft Express 15
CBS Sports 10-14 25
The Lottery Mafia 14
ESPN's Chad Ford 16 20