The 2020-21 NBA season ended in disappointment for the Golden State Warriors. They lost their two play-in games by a combined eight points and missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
There were some highlights for the Dubs. Stephen Curry showed why he remains one of the best basketball players in the world. Draymond Green still has plenty left in the tank. Andrew Wiggins seems to have found the right situation for him. Jordan Poole emerged as a legitimate scoring threat off the bench while Juan Toscano-Anderson proved he could be an everyday NBA player.
The disappointments from the season include James Wiseman’s performance, Eric Paschall’s regression and the inconsistency of Kelly Oubre Jr.’s play.
One of the big decisions for Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers is what to do with Oubre. The Kansas product was brought in to help offset the loss of the injured Klay Thompson, but things didn’t start well.
Oubre began the season shooting just 26.8 percent from the field and a paltry 4.8 percent from beyond the arc. He didn’t look comfortable in head coach Steve Kerr’s system and seemed out of place with Golden State.
Thankfully for the Dubs, Oubre began to turn things around in February. The 25-year-old averaged 20.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in February and shot an impressive 43 percent from deep.
But bad injury luck struck going into March. Oubre suffered a wrist injury in a blowout loss to the Lakers, which forced him to miss the next two weeks. Oubre never regained his form following the injury.
He only eclipsed the 20-point mark in five out of the remaining 20 games he suited up for the rest of the season. Oubre’s shooting fell off once again as he connected on just 29.8 percent of his 3-point attempts the rest of the way.
But the versatile forward did help on the defensive end. Although Andrew Wiggins would usually guard the opposing teams’ best player, Oubre also took on the challenge when called upon. He also flashed his potential on the offensive end.
Oubre performed better when he wasn’t forcing things offensively. When he allowed the game to come to him and didn’t take contested jumpers, he played better in the Dubs’ ball-movement scheme. Oubre averaged 16.8 points and shot 47.4 percent in Golden State victories.
But when he would take 3-pointers with a man on him or drive into traffic, his numbers dipped. Oubre’s scoring average dropped by 2.7 points, and he connected on just 40.5 percent of his field-goal attempts in losses.
The underlying numbers also aren’t kind to Oubre. The Warriors gave up 11.6 fewer points per 100 possessions with Oubre out of the game, and Dubs’ offensive rating was 8.8 points better with him on the bench.
With Oubre up for free agency, Myers will need to make a quick decision on what he wants to do with the forward.
If Myers re-signs Oubre, it would cost ownership a ton in luxury tax bills, but Oubre would be a solid option to come off the bench with a healthy Thompson next season. Along with Poole, Oubre would give Golden State two bonafide scorers on the second unit.
Myers was asked if Oubre would be ok returning in a bench role, which is something the general manager discussed with Oubre during their exit interview.
“We didn’t specifically [address that],” Myers said. “But he did make it clear he’d like to be here. He did say that.”
For his part, Kerr is also open to bringing back Oubre for next season.
“It would be great to have Kelly back,” Steve Kerr said during his season-ending media availability. ”He’s really, really talented. Obviously it was tricky at times finding the exact right role. He’s a free agent. He’s gonna have to decide what he wants.
“I said it before — Klay [Thompson] is gonna start when he gets back. Would Kelly be interested in coming off the bench? That’s a question only he can answer. He’ll weigh his options, we’ll weigh ours, and we’ll see where it all goes.
“But really like Kelly [and] really think he’s got great potential to be very helpful on our team.”
The other option for Myers is using Oubre in a sign-and-trade so that he can recoup another asset. The return likely won’t be more than a couple of future draft picks, but even those would help Myers to try and bring in another veteran this offseason.
“I don’t know what his market will be, I don’t know what our ability will be [to re-sign him],” Myers said last week. ”But he did help us when he moved to the sixth-man role. I thought he handled it well, especially when we played him more at the four.”
What do you think the Dubs should do with Oubre this offseason?