Utah Jazz Draft Prospects 2015: Kelly Oubre

March 23rd, 2015 | by Dakota Schmidt

Kelly Oubre NCAA Tournament

As the Jazz continue their ascent up the Western Conference, the organization will have to make an important decision as they near the NBA Draft: Do they go for the player that can make an immediate impact, or a high upside prospect that they’ll have to nurture for multiple years? While the team has gone towards the second option over the past few years with the selections of Dante Exum and Rudy Gobert, their recent success could lead to them going away from the mindset.

However, if the Jazz do decide to keep picking “high upside” talent, Kansas forward Kelly Oubre might be the most ideal draft prospect. As a former McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, Oubre entered the star-studded Kansas organization with high expectations. While he never lost his reputation as a lottery-bound prospect, Oubre struggled to get consistent playing time until the team started conference play. That inconsistent playing time lead Oubre to only average 20 minutes per game.

Whenever Oubre was on the court, he showed off an insane amount of defensive potential. Standing at 6’7 with a tremendous 7’1 wingspan, Oubre can utilize that tremendous length in multiple ways, including as a defensive ball-hawk. By consistently working the passing lanes, Oubre is able to use that length to force the opposition to commit turnovers. That ability is showcased by Oubre averaging 2.3 steals per 40 minutes, which is more than the likes of Arizona’s Stanley Johnson or Duke’s Justise Winslow.

Aside from that, Oubre does display a high amount of defensive awareness for a prospect that’s so young. He does a terrific job of using his long frame to keep pace with players, from point guards or power forwards. While he’s a menace in the passing lanes, Oubre rarely tries to force plays, and does a good job of staying in an ideal position.

Oubre’s tendency to force turnovers in the passing lanes has helped him become a huge transition threat. Once he gets possession of the ball, Oubre does a great job of pushing it down the court. In that process, Oubre tends to break away from the opposition, which allows him to finish with a ferocious dunk.

In the half-court, Oubre does tend to have a bit more trouble. As was showcased in Kansas’ NCAA Tournament defeat against Wichita State, Oubre has periods where he tends to stay hidden from the action. This may be partially due to Bill Self, however, who tends to be more reliant on his stable of sophomores (Wayne Selden and Frank Mason) or juniors (Perry Ellis).

When he does get an offensive opportunity, Oubre displays flashes of an ability to score in a multitude of different ways. Perhaps the most intriguing would be his ability to shoot the perimeter jumper. Whether it would be off-the-dribble or via catch-and-shoot, Oubre has a smooth shooting stroke that’s helped him shoot 36% from beyond the arc on five attempts per 40 minutes.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing parts of Oubre’s offensive game is his ability to work as an on-ball penetrator. While the forward has a pretty solid crossover that he likes to display on a consistent basis, he seems to be pretty loose with the ball, which has lead to him turning the ball over frequently. However, when Oubre is 100% zoned in, he’s snake-like in the way he slithers his way through the defense as he works his way to the rim.

Because of his quickness and athleticism, Oubre has a tremendous amount of potential as an off-ball threat. When he doesn’t worry about maintaining control of the ball, Oubre is an extremely explosive threat as he can tear from the perimeter to the paint within a blink of an eye. Once he does get to the paint, he’s able to use his long frame to get an easily look at the rim.

The addition of Oubre into Utah’s cavalcade of defensive-minded players might force some sleepless nights among other wing units around the leauge, and the 6’7 forward could only help the team’s already elite defensive unit. With his aggressive yet controlled defensive approach, Oubre already has the same mentality that has helped lead to Utah’s defensive turnaround. Oubre’s aggression in the passing lanes would also be able to help a Jazz defense that’s currently 16th in the league in steals, with 7.9 per 100 possessions.

On the offensive end, Oubre probably won’t be able to make a huge immediate impact, but he does have potential to be another weapon for Dante Exum down the road. Utah’s motion-heavy offense could lead to some perimeter looks for Oubre, who could either use that open lane to drive to the rim or shoot the jumper.

Dakota Schmidt

A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.


  1. Mewko says:

    I’d be satisfied if the Jazz got Frank Kaminsky.

  2. SLC Jazzfan says:

    Oubre is by far and away the best immediate and future option for the Jazz. One the the Jazz biggest weaknesses we have is perimeter and mid defense. Because of his length he would be able guard the stretch fours on the perimeter and allow Favors and Gobert to dominate the paint. His upside on offense is also enormous, Hood and Oubre would allow us to stretch the offense and open up for Favors and Gobert down low. It would also be nice to have a guy the same age as Exum to develop together. I hope the Jazz see the potential of this and trade up if necessary.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      It would appear that the Jazz might be happy to take whichever one of Stanley Johnson, Justice Winslow or Kelly Oubre is available with the Jazz’s draft pick–all of whom are defensive-minded SFs with good size and length, and out-of-this-world athleticism, which is an apparent need for the Jazz. The offensive skills of all three players are still works-in-progress, but there is optimism that all three players could become good offensively in the future.

      Another interesting option for the Jazz may be to trade the Jazz’s 2015 draft pick for Danilo Gallinari, in the event that Denver decides to go into all-out re-build mode. (Gallinari has one year remaining on his contract for $11.6 mil.) The money freed up by the trade of Enes Kanter could make such a trade feasible for the Jazz. There has been some concern that Gallinari may not return to his pre-injury form, but perhaps his 40-point game this past week may have quelled some of those concerns. It would appear that Gallinari could provide the Jazz with another legitimate scoring threat at the SF/stretch-4 PF positions. If the Jazz were to choose that route, the Jazz could also obtain a good SF defender by signing Al-Farouq Aminu in free agency. His offensive abilities are very pedestrian, but he has great size and athleticism for a SF, is an excellent wing defender, and would not be very expensive to sign–perhaps in the range of between $2-4 mil. per year.

      • SLC Jazzfan says:

        A few years ago I would have loved Gallinari but there has been too many injuries. A few good games does not alleviate the years of injuries and the risk of future injuries, history has taught that it is a bad gamble on these types of players. His situation reminds me too much of Gilbert Arenas. I would be fine trading the pick I just have a huge bias toward players with serious injury histories.

        Aminu would be a great pick up and certainly should be a possibility. I have always thought Aminu is a underrated player. Jonas Jerebko is also a free agent he could be a good fit as a stretch four on the Jazz.

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