Why the Key to a 76ers Playoff Run is… Kelly Oubre?


By Chip Bayless (click Howie for more Chip)



Joel Embiid is an undisputed top-5 player in the league, and Tyrese Maxey is an ascending superstar you can build a franchise around. These are basic facts we knew before the season; however, what we did not know before the season started was that Kelly Oubre Jr. would become possibly the third-most important player on the roster and becoming the glue that holds the Sixers best and most complete performances together.

Oubre brings that Jimmy Butler, P.J. Tucker-like grittiness and will to win that infects the rest of the roster. In those times where it seems like nobody on the Sixers roster wants to rebound, it is often Oubre who steps up to crash the glass, sacrifice his body, and attain strong rebounds to get the Sixers those key extra possessions that win games.

Among all small forwards this season, Oubre is currently averaging the 8th-highest offensive rebound percentage this season (per Basketball Reference).

You can tell he’s not scared of anyone defensively, in fact, he probably looks forward to shutting down the opposing team’s top scorer as much as anyone in the NBA. Oubre plays with active hands, has one of the best vertical jumps on the team, and has a sense for finding passing lanes like he’s an NFL cornerback.

His constant defensive pressure and annoyance on his opponents is obvious, often due to their visible frustration. As of today, Oubre ranks 6th among small forwards and 30th among all players in steal percentage, according to Basketball Reference.

Among 76ers players this season, Oubre is currently:

  • 4th in points per game
  • 4th in rebounds per game
  • 4th in steals per game
  • 4th in field goals made per game
  • 5th in blocks per game
  • 6th in three-pointers per game

Oubre is also the aggressive scorer the Sixers need sometimes, as there have been occasions throughout the past few years where it felt like absolutely nobody wants to score in the most clutch situations, and Oubre projects the exact opposite of that. You can tell his confident in his drive or his shot is the same regardless of whether its the first or last minute of the game, as evidenced by the fact that he ranks 41st among all NBA players regardless of position in average points off fast breaks per game (per NBA.com).

Furthermore, Oubre helps spread the floor as he can hit from anywhere on the court and can be a scary driver when he’s locked in. With his size and his defensive will to boot, Oubre has transformed himself into the perfect complimentary fit to Joel Embiid’s MVP-like dominance and Tyrese Maxey’s Road Runner-like energy all over the court.

Oubre is phenomenal at shooting his hands at just the right time and finding creative ways to get between the ball and the basket without fouling. He constantly comes up with clutch blocks against talented opponents and can matchup against almost anyone in the NBA. Oubre sports the 8th-highest block percentage among small forwards this season, and he ranks 51st among all players in the NBA regardless of position (per Basketball Reference).

The elevation Oubre gets on some of his dunks and blocks is astounding and imposes a defensive presence, much like on this insane block from earlier this season:


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Among all shooting guards this season, Oubre ranks: 5th in blocks per game (per ESPN), 11th in steals per game, and 10th in rebounds per game.

If the Sixers want to finally extinguish their playoff anguish, Kelly Oubre will likely be the key ingredient in that recipe, with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey as his head chefs.

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