For the Phoenix Suns, Kelly Oubre’s return is a major difference maker

Kelly Oubre, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Gonzales NBAE via Getty Images)
Kelly Oubre, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Gonzales NBAE via Getty Images) /

Kelly Oubre has the potential to be a major X-factor for the Phoenix Suns once season play resumes.

Phoenix Suns fans have had a pretty good week with some very positive news. First came the announcement that the Suns would be among the teams playing when the season resumes. Then came another positive development concerning a certain Kelly Oubre Jr. This past Thursday Team owner Robert Sarver was on Arizona Sports’ Burns and Gambo  and had this to say when asked about Oubre’s possible return:

“Yes, I expect he will play, yes.”

Those 7 words are a tremendous boost of optimism for the Phoenix Suns and the Suns’ community.

Kelly Oubre could be the X-factor for the Phoenix Suns when the NBA returns.

Oubre’s stats certainly speak for themselves. During this truncated season he has averaged 18.7 points (3rd on the team) 6.4 rebounds (2nd on the team) and 1.5 assists per contest. Over the course of those 56 games, he has led the Suns in both scoring and rebounding on 12 different occasions. He has piled up 39 points against the Houston Rockets with seven 3-pointers on a whopping 73% shooting. He has assembled three different monster 15 rebounds nights. He even had a game against the Sacramento Kings where he tossed in a season-high of five assists to go along with 20 points and 15 rebounds, arguably his most complete game of the season.

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However, as valued as Oubre’s counting stats are, it is the intangibles that are perhaps just as important to the Phoenix Suns success. Kelly Oubre provides a steady stream of energy-boosting hustle plays, emphatic slams, and timely encouragement, and these actions can add just as much value as a key bucket.

That much-needed swagger is hard to contextualize but very tangible. The Suns have few sources of it outside of Tsunami Papi. Devin Booker? Sure, you might get a mean mug or some barking on the floor, and the man will certainly not back down in a contest.

However, that same quality isn’t always found in a Deandre Ayton. There’s even less of it in Ricky Rubio, although his influence on the floor is valued in its own right. Fortunately, not only does Oubre bring it in spades, but it rubs off on the collective unit. The starters feed off of it. The bench picks it up and incorporates it in their play when they enter the action. Everyone benefits from the spark plug that is Kelly Oubre Jr.

The Phoenix Suns will be entering a situation where they will need all of the positive attributes that Oubre will bring, both tangible and intangible. There is a finite amount of pressure-cooking games that will commence after a long layoff, and those games will ultimately be a deciding factor for making the postseason. The Suns have that chance, and as much as they will rely on Booker and their collective team strength, Kelly Oubre’s contributions will be integral to Phoenix’s hopes.

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