Can Kelly Oubre save the pure hooper archetype with the Philadelphia 76ers?

PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 07: Shirts line the seats of the Wells Fargo Center for fans before the Eastern Conference Semifinal Game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers on May 07, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

If Joel Embiid is Dreams and Nightmares, then Kelly Oubre Jr. must be Uptown Vibes. After spending the entire summer without a home, the “Tsunami Papi” finally inked a new contract with the Philadelphia 76ers at the tail end of the offseason. In the wise words of the great poet Robert Rihmeek Williams, better known by his stage name, Meek Mill: “They’ve been tryna stop the wave, but the wave don’t stop.”

In today’s NBA, with franchises fully bought into advanced analytics, the one-dimensional volume scorer has been nearly eradicated from the league. As teams have started to value versatility, playmaking, and efficiency more and more, scorers who can’t seem to do anything else have become devalued. That’s why Oubre nearly found without an NBA home for much of the offseason despite averaging a career-high of over 20 points per game last season with the Charlotte Hornets.

Gone are the days of the pure hoopers like Jamal Crawford, Lou Williams, and Isaiah Thomas. These types of players historically dominated the Sixth Man of the Year competition when franchises understood that scoring inefficiently was better than not scoring at all. While these pure hoopers didn’t offer much else, they could go out and get a bucket when nothing else when going for their teams.

While it’s true that Oubre was little more than an inefficient bucket-getter last season, he could very well prove to be the perfect addition for this Sixers team, especially if they do wind up trading away James Harden for a conglomerate of role players. This past postseason, Philadelphia proved again that they still lack the half-court scoring necessary to survive off nights from Joel Embiid, even with the Beard running the offense.

The importance of Oubre’s archetype

Against the Boston Celtics, the Sixers found themselves giving away games in a series that went seven because they couldn’t seem to dig themselves out of offensive droughts once they were mired in one. If Harden wasn’t cooking, Philadelphia had no reliable source for points aside from Embiid.

The Sixers have long waited for Tobias Harris to earn his money as a half-court go-to scorer, but it hasn’t come yet. Continuing to hope that Tobi will eventually become a championship-level third option reeks of naivete. If he can step up next season, great, but the Sixers certainly shouldn’t count on it.

Tyrese Maxey likely can be relied on for some internal development, and Philly will be grateful for his improvement once Harden’s gone. They’ll need him to continue his growth into a legitimate superstar if they hope to compete with the new-look Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. But even if Maxey becomes a worthy number two to Embiid, the Sixers will need more self-sufficient scoring to keep defenses honest in the playoffs.

That’s where Kelly Oubre comes in. Having someone with irrational confidence and an unconscious shot selection, especially in a bench role, can be a boon for a team’s offense if deployed correctly. When Philadelphia finds themselves in another offensive rut, they’ll at least know that the Tsunami Papi won’t be afraid to shoot. If Oubre’s one-dimensional game can prove to be an asset for the Sixers this season, it might just pave the way for more “pure hoopers” of his ilk to find their niche in this new NBA.