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At a career crossroads, can Kelly Oubre Jr. be impactful off Sixers’ bench?

The Philadelphia 76ers were scant on wings to say the least when they decided to bring in free agent Kelly Oubre Jr. on a one-year, veteran minimum contract.

Indiana Pacers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Ready or not, another season of 76ers basketball is right around the corner. With that being said, it is once again time for preseason player profiles at Liberty Ballers.

We’ve already previewed several players, looking forward to how they could impact the team in the 2023-24 season.

Kelly Oubre Jr.

Age: 27

Contract status: One-year, veteran minimum for 2023-24

Kelly Oubre, Jr. averaged 32.3 minutes per game over 48 games for the Charlotte Hornets last season (even having missed a large chunk of last season to have surgery to repair a torn ligament in his hand), putting up a career-high 20.3 points per game. He shot just 31.9% from long range in that campaign, but on a healthy average of 7.1 attempts per game.

Now, that was in a majority-starter capacity. But Oubre has proven his worth as a bench production player as well — the role he will likely fill with the Sixers. In the 2021-22 season in Charlotte, Oubre served almost exclusively in this capacity, starting in just 13 of his 76 games that campaign. That season, Oubre averaged 15.0 points. If Oubre is able to replicate that production, it would be a major boost to the Sixers’ bench unit offensively.

Defensively, Oubre has potential, but definitely needs consistency. He averages 1.0 steals per game over his career, with his biggest defensive impact being in the passing lanes. However, he needs work on 1-on-1 defense if he’s going to become an impactful perimeter defender, something the Sixers could definitely use.

Season outlook: This is a low-risk, potentially high-reward move for the Sixers, snagging Oubre on a one-year, vet minimum deal.

After losing both Georges Niang and Jalen McDaniels, the Sixers were borderline desperate for another wing to plug into the roster. As it stands today, the lineup of bench wings for the Sixers is limited to Danuel House Jr., Furkan Korkmaz, Danny Green and now Oubre. Among those options, Oubre has the advantage of combining both his youth with a decent chunk of NBA experience, not to mention being 6-foot-7 with a ridiculous 7-3 wingspan. He has the chance to see significant playing opportunities off the bench if Nick Nurse wants to put him to work.

This is not to claim that Oubre is perfect by any means. There are reasons he was only able to ink a one-year deal with the Sixers. He’s not the most efficient, averaging more turnovers (1.1) than assists (1.0) in his NBA career.

Something off the statsheet to consider is where Oubre is in his career and how that might impact his mentality going into the season. The Sixers will be Oubre’s fifth team in just nine years in the association. Again, there are reasons his main opportunity is taking a veteran minimum with the Sixers. He is at a major crossroads, with the future of his NBA career arguably on the line. Talk about incentive to put in 110% effort every time he steps on the court. The question simply remains whether that incentive and effort translates into development and production.

Overall, the Sixers may have filled a huge wing-sized void in their roster with the signing of Oubre. Though he’s hardly been perfect throughout his nine-year NBA career, on a one-year veteran minimum deal, the upside is high and the downside is low for Oubre and the Sixers.

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