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2021-22 Season Review: Kelly Oubre Jr.

He was frustrating at times, but Oubre was a big part of the Hornets success this season.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Kelly Oubre is kind of a tough player to get a grasp on. He’s hot and cold, and given his style of play, that creates wild fluctuations in his impact on games from a night to night basis. He won some game for the Charlotte Hornets this season. It also felt like he lost some.

The Hornets landed Kelly Oubre for a two year, $24.6 million contract last summer. At the time, he felt like one of if not the best free agent on the market, so the Hornets landed him on a surprisingly good deal. He was expected to provide depth on the wing behind the oft injured Gordon Hayward.

Oubre caught on in Charlotte much better than he did in Golden State the year prior. He scored 25 points off the bench in just his second appearance with the Hornets, the first of nine 25+ point performances on the season. He had 12 games with at least five 3-pointers made, including 10 in the Hornets record setting win over the Pacers and eight in the fourth quarter alone in a win over the Pistons a few weeks prior. He scored 37 points off the bench and carried the Hornets to a win over the Grizzlies early in the season.

He was not always the most engaged defender, but he was disruptive. His 187 deflections was second on the team behind only LaMelo Ball.

There were plenty of bads to go with those goods though. Oubre is a perfect embodiment of the idea of shooting yourself out of a slump. He had 11 instances of making zero or one 3-pointer on at least six attempts. He had 13 games with at least ten shot attempts in which he shot 33.3% or worse from the field. Shooting a basketball tends to be a hot and cold skill for most players, but Oubre’s colds were accentuated by his propensity to shoot quick, difficult shots.

You have to take the good with the bad with Oubre. His irrational confidence lets him get unconsciously hot from deep, but with that it also allows him to unconsciously shoot 3-for-14 from the field in 21 minutes.

Oubre was hot enough early in the season to warrant Sixth Man of the Year buzz. He couldn’t sustain that all season long, but he still turned in a solid campaign. On the whole, he finished the season averaging 15.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He appeared in 76 games for the Hornets and played the fourth most total minutes on the team. He wasn’t the steadiest player, but he was consistently available and was a threat to go off on any night.

Just $5 million of Oubre’s $12.6 million are guaranteed for next season, the last on his current deal. He’s a very movable asset that could help the Hornets match money on a big trade without being a detriment to the deal. If he ends up sticking around, he should play a big part for the Hornets again next season, likely reprising his role as sixth man. He’s still young (people forget he’s actually a few months younger than Cody Martin), so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he improves in his second season with this group of players and a new coaching staff.