Golden State Warriors’ newbie Kelly Oubre Jr. is experiencing a slow start with his new team this season. In a matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, Oubre started in the game but didn’t end in it after being benched in the Warriors’ comeback win.
In spite of Oubre’s rocky start to the season, head coach Steve Kerr’s details his confidence in Oubre and responds to the possibility of giving Oubre fewer minutes.
Kelly Oubre’s Lack of Flow
With an Achillies injury leaving Warriors’ All-Star Klay Thompson out for the entirety of the season, Kelly Oubre has acquired a starting position with the team. Starting all nine games of the season so far, Oubre has exemplified his skillful defense and of course, his athleticism. However, Oubre can’t seem to get in sync with the rest of the team on the offensive side. He’s failed to figure out how to end his struggles as he finished his most recent game against the Los Angeles Clippers with yet another dull performance. Oubre only scored 6 points in 21 minutes and went 2-for-7 from the field.
Steve Kerr said "I don't anticipate" changing the starting lineup: "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."
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) January 9, 2021
All-Star Steph Curry was able to lead the team to victory after being down by as much as 20 points in the second half. Curry dropped 38 points and managed to drive the team to a 34 point run in the 4th quarter that earned the Warriors’ their 115-105 victory over the NBA title contenders. After a slow start to the season, the Warriors are managing to turn things around now with a 5-4 record.
Steve Kerr Reacts to Kelly Oubre
The Warriors were expecting to be reliant on Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins this season to fill the void of Thompson being out. While Wiggins is holding up his end putting up consistent numbers every night, Oubre in particular has been struggling to do the same. Kerr still remains optimistic and believes that Oubre still has to get comfortable in the lineup.
“Obviously this slow start for Kelly is more just about a lack of flow with our starting group, and that’s something we’re trying to address,” Kerr told reporters per the Warriors’ SoundCloud. “It’s always tough to go to a new team and find your role, find your rhythm, and I think that’s what’s happened with Kelly. He’s handled it beautifully, brings a positive approach and a smile to practice every day, but I know this is eating him up inside.”
Kerr didn’t specify how exactly he was going to work to get Oubre in the flow of the starting lineup, but he was clear that he didn’t see himself keeping Oubre on the bench.
“I don’t anticipate it,” Kerr said per the Warriors SoundCloud. “It’s so early in the season. I want Kelly to gain some rhythm and some confidence. He’s a proven player. He’s been doing this for years. He’ll get going.”
Oubre’s minutes have been starting to decline over the past few games, but Oubre’s defense is what continues to keep him in the lineup.
“His defense has been great for us,” Kerr said in the same interview. “We need him badly, we need Andrew badly, and it’s such a relief for me as a coach after last year, not having the horses to deal with the Paul Georges and Kawhi Leonards of the world, what a relief knowing I’ve got Kelly and Andrew to defend on the wings.”
Following the rest of the team, Oubre needs to find a spark of momentum on the floor and take charge knowing that Kerr has faith in his game.
Besides his obvious struggles with his shot, head coach Steve Kerr has confidence in Oubre’s ability to be a great all-around player and will continue to trust him with a starting role in the Warriors’ lineup. Besides, it’s still very early in the season and Oubre has much time to get in the flow of the rest of the team.
Oubre will have a chance to show the league how he can perform better offensively in the Warriors’ next matchup against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night.