When the Washington Wizards traded up to draft Kelly Oubre Jr. 15th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, they were hoping to get a youngster that had the athleticism to be an elite defender, but potentially more desirable, a lethal shooter. Oubre was a 35.8 percent three-point shooter in his lone year at Kansas, but has been just a 29.6 percent shooter from deep in the NBA including just 28.7 percent last year.
Although just 21-years old where one may think maturity and discipline may be an issue, Oubre is a gym rat. Couple that with the help of skilled basketball trainer Drew Hanlen who also works with Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Clarkson among others and the third-year wing has a chance to make a big jump during the upcoming season. One noted change Oubre made this summer was tweaking his shooting mechanics in hopes of better efficiency from the field.
“I used to when I shot, I shot with my elbow in, in front of my eyes,” Oubre described his previous shooting mechanics. “All I did was, move my elbow out to increase some of the vision when I shoot, which causes for better accuracy and better percentages.”
The idea to make such a profound change in a player’s game this late into his playing days given he started playing basketball at such a young age came from Hanlen, but also motivated by a teammate that shot 43.4 percent from three last season.
“Me and Drew just collectively sat in the gym and was wondering how we can get better going down the line from dribbling to jumpers and that was one of the things we saw was wrong with my jumper,” Oubre shared. “I couldn’t really see when I shot and now I just got my elbow out a little bit. And I noticed, honestly, Otto [Porter Jr.] did it as well and obviously we see what happened with him. We should see some improvements.”
The strong work ethic Oubre has helped to make the transition fairly smooth.
“It was weird when at first, when we first changed it, but the countless hours in the gym and repetition supersedes all that,” Oubre said. “It feels good now.”
Hanlen discussed that this was the second stage in a two-part process to improve Oubre’s shot.
“Kelly’s completely changed his upper body shooting form,” trainer Drew Hanlen told the Locked on Wizards podcast earlier in the summer. “Last year we changed his lower body shooting form. It was kind of a two, three-year process. So this summer we are really trying to improve his upper body. … We completely moved his shot to the left side of his body. We pretty much opened up his elbows so now he has vision with both eyes.”
Oubre has the trust of head coach Scott Brooks on the defensive end without a doubt, but his minutes fluctuated throughout last season because of his ups and downs on offense. There are still other parts of his game that need improvement including dribbling with his right hand, but even if Oubre can turn into a spot up shooter, that will get him consistent playing time on both ends of the floor.
“I think he’s going to have his breakout season next year [2017-18] because we finally had a chance to put in the amount of time we need to fix both his upper body and lower body,” Hanlen predicted.