Kelly Oubre was integral in the Phoenix Suns’ hopes of competing for a playoff seed. With his loss, the road just became a little harder.
What a bummer. Seriously. Yesterday afternoon, Phoenix Suns fans were hit with news that was definitely unwanted, with the report that Kelly Oubre Jr. would be unavailable for the remainder of the season. If you remember (and really, which Suns fan could forget) Oubre underwent arthroscopic surgery over three months ago to address a torn meniscus in his right knee. At the time, re-evaluation was set four weeks from the surgery, obviously followed by the long layoff. Now, however, it is official. The Phoenix Suns will be without Kelly Oubre’s services for a critical stretch drive.
It literally couldn’t have come at a worse time for Oubre.
Kelly was in the midst of a monster year, with career-high averages in points, (18.7) rebounds, (5.3), and shooting percentages both from the field and from beyond the arc. In a season where the Phoenix Suns were hit hard with injuries and an untimely suspension, Oubre was able to step up in a major way and become a great second option alongside Devin Booker.
Make no mistake, the loss of Oubre is devastating to the Suns playoff hopes.
The loss cannot be overstated. According to Shams, Oubre will travel with the team to Orlando, and that is great from a locker room perspective. However, the lack of such high-end production on the floor hurts in a major way.
Oubre is third on the team in usage behind both Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, which makes sense given the offensive options. But look beyond Oubre. After him, there is Jared Harper and 21.3% over three games, (not applicable of course) followed by Aron Baynes, Frank Kaminsky, and Ricky Rubio. Out of those four players, there is just one that you’d feel comfortable with that level of usage (Rubio) and he is more of a play creator than he is a finisher.
Mikal Bridges has had a solid season, but he will be asked to provide more on the offensive end; ditto for Dario Saric and Rubio. Booker’s load on the offensive end just became a lot larger, and Ayton will have to help shoulder more of that than before in Oubre’s absence. Cam Johnson will have a much more significant role as well, likely platooning with Bridges in some semblance of the dual swingmen front court alignments the Suns used in the regular season to success.
Outside of Booker and Ayton, the Phoenix Suns don’t have one singular person that can replicate the offensive production that Oubre provided on a consistent basis; they will simply have to do it by committee.
The news is obviously tough; the playoff possibilities obviously dimmer. However, if there is one attribute that can be applied to the Phoenix Suns, it would be resiliency. They have weather injuries, battled with short-handed rosters. This is a heavy blow, and quite possibly a death knell to any basketball plans after the eight-game regular season. Regardless, with Oubre cheering from the sidelines, count on the Suns battling together as a unit. After the year that they’ve had, what’s one more adversity?