Point 1: It’s not fair to paint Kelly Oubre Jr. into a corner as the problem child for the Phoenix Suns
Was he really the guy who was restricting the team’s evolution?
But his role as fashion ambassador became just about as visible as anything he could add on the court.
It was fun to be able to look away from what was yet another non-playoff team. Kind of like the shiny object that takes one’s attention away from the real concern.
A dynamic offensive player, Oubre Jr. tried to be dynamic on defense, too, with a few steals and poster-worthy finishes to his credit. But this year’s Suns, though not compiling the steals at a particularly high rate, are far more dependable on defense.
In this first point, the Oubre Jr. illustration is just that: an example of how the Suns were precocious but mistake-prone, and a year later are maturing. It’s true the team played some of Phoenix’s best basketball in the Orlando bubble last year, but Oubre Jr. was not on the court for any of the team’s eight games.
So the Valley Boyz brand has taken a back seat while the franchise continues to apply action toward its commitment to winning. Making the deal to land $40 million man Chris Paul was no small statement, and he’s among the team’s most impactful players.
Oubre Jr. and his new team, the Golden State Warriors, visit Phoenix on Thursday looking like a very young team, very entertaining but very uncertain to make the playoffs.
The veteran additions (and Oubre Jr.’s exit) have stabilized the new normal, giving the Suns a baseline for more improvement as the 2021 chemistry takes hold.