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Washington Wizards trade up to roll the dice on Kelly Oubre with 15th overall pick

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

In a move no one saw coming, the Wizards are not going to be taking the best player available with the 19th overall pick. Instead, they're trading up to pick someone most didn't expect to be Wizards' radar, Kansas' Kelly Oubre:

Now, I know what you're thinking: Is there a Kevin Durant connection here? Absolutely:

But Kelly Oubre isn't just a piece to lure Kevin Durant to Washington. As Rock Chalk Talk, SB Nation's Kansas blog explains, Oubre should give the Wizards a much-needed jolt of athleticism on the wing that should help the Wizards defensively:

He made huge strides in his defensive game while at KU and is expected to be able to contribute immediately in the NBA on the defensive end of the floor due to his length and quick reflexes. Oubre has the potential to be a terrific stopper on the wing.

On the flip side, he's still very much a work in progress:

It may be a bit of a stretch to call Kelly's offensive game a weakness, considering that his most NBA-ready quality may be his jump shot. A knock on his offense is that he's still too streaky due to shot selection issues, and that when rushed he tends to change release point which causes his shot to come out flat. His ball-handling skills are described as "rudimentary" due to the primary use of his strong left hand and his reluctance to finish right-handed.


The Wizards' track record with hyper-athletic draft picks that need to develop skills isn't great. Most Wizards fans can still recount the horrors of the Nick Young and JaVale McGee era. If you want to be pessimistic because of that alone, it's an understandable but premature reaction. The Wizards have come a long way in how they develop players in recent years, and there won't be any knuckleheads around to hamper Oubre's development like there were in the Arenas era.

Also, if the Golden State Warriors taught us anything this season, it's that you can never have too many versatile swingmen who can guard multiple positions. A Porter-Oubre tandem should allow the Wizards to play a more aggressive defensive style in the future, so that's a plus.

Oubre aside, there's also the issue of the Wizards once again not showing very high regard for second round picks. Getting rid of two second rounders to only move up four spots in the first round of  a deep draft seems a bit excessive, especially considering players like Bobby Portis, Jerian Grant, Justin Anderson, Montrezl Harrell and Kevon Looney would have been available with the 19th pick.

To be fair, this move looks better if Paul Pierce decides to go to the Clippers or Celtics in free agency, because they'd have someone to help fill the void right away, but even still, it's a big gamble from a team that hasn't had much success rolling the dice.

GRADE: C- unless Kevin Durant joins the Wizards next season, in which case A+++++++++++++++++