Kelly Oubre finally finds new home with Sixers

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, left, dunks past Charlotte Hornets’ Kelly Oubre Jr. during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Just when you thought there would be nothing to see until a Harden trade materialized, the Philadelphia 76ers stunned their fans by signing wing Kelly Oubre to a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The consensus top remaining free agent, Oubre spent last season with the Charlotte Hornets, where he averaged a career-high 20.3 points per game. It was a season of disappointment for the Hornets, who finished the season with the fourth-worst record in the league. Much of this was due to an inability to stay healthy, which plagued Oubre as well.

On Jan. 5, Oubre underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left hand, which is his shooting hand, that he had suffered at the beginning of the season. After roughly a five-week recovery, Oubre did return to the Hornets and picked up right where he left off, averaging 20.5 points and 5.4 rebounds with an improved three-point percentage of 35.4 percent on 6.1 attempts per game.

While the improvement is encouraging, it is important to temper expectations by noting that Oubre is not a historically strong shooter. He has only shot over 35 percent from range just once over a full season in his career, back during the 2019-2020 NBA season.

Even if Oubre fails to thrive as a shooter in Philadelphia, he brings a much-needed level of athleticism at the wing not seen since Jimmy Butler. Oubre could either start alongside some combination of De’Anthony Melton, Tobias Harris, and PJ Tucker with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey as the mainstays or play a reserve role as a scoring spark off the bench. What exactly Nick Nurse has planned for his new wing is yet to be seen.

According to Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports, the deal is for the veterans minimum, which, while not entirely shocking considering Oubre’s lack of a market, certainly feels like a risk worth taking.