Kelly Oubre Jr. is ready to stand out with the 76ers this season

Oubre
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)

“I don’t see myself fitting in…. I see myself standing out,” Kelly Oubre Jr. told reporters when asked about how he sees himself fitting into the current roster.

An innocent and playful quote from the 27-year-old who was signed to a veteran minimum contract late in the offseason, it also teases why Oubre Jr. may be the type of difference-maker the Philadelphia 76ers need. The former Kansas standout lands on his fifth NBA team since entering the NBA during the 2015-16 season. He now sets his sights on contributing to a contending team while carrying the same vibrant personality he has always possessed with him to Philadelphia.

Kelly Oubre Jr’s Off-Court Interest

In a recent episode of Days Off presented by Whistle Sports, Oubre Jr. gave a window into his life beyond basketball. His on-court flair can be seen in his off-court activities as well. When discussing what a typical off-day is like for him, Oubre Jr. was quick to point to downhill mountain biking and thrift shopping as two of his favorite activities.

“It’s like my getaway and I have fun,” Oubre Jr. said of mountain biking.

“I just kinda get outside away from everything. I’m out here by myself a lot. Pretty much enjoying that blissfulness, that peace and quiet, and getting lost in nature,” Oubre Jr. said of mountain biking. “Biking is a workout. I use it to get my cardio and to get my legs stronger, my core stronger, and pretty much be in a zen state.”

The 2015 15th overall pick was also quick to point to how his experience with his bike on the dirt paths can translate to his outlook on the basketball court and to life in general.

“Training is training,” Oubre Jr. said. “Obviously on a team and on an inside environment you have to flow with the next guy. Y’all have to work together in tandem to succeed… (Biking) teaches you a lot. It teaches you how to face fear head-on. It teaches you discipline. It teaches you discipline when you’re fatigued, even when you’re fighting. Your emotions are super high, and it’s easy to lose yourself… It teaches you like when to go hard and when to relax. When to breathe extra hard when you’re tired to make sure that you continue to go smoothly and you don’t get hurt. It teaches you a lot of things mentally.”

Oubre Jr. gave a demo for the camera, including tearing down a number of trails on his matte-black mountain bike. He pointed out how important nature is to his life and the benefits he believes in stepping away from the game and keeping in touch with the outside world. However, Oubre Jr. also has another hobby that fans may be more aware of- fashion.

The New Orleans native described his style of fashion as “IDGAF Grunge,” and there will be plenty of pregame outfits captured on Sixers social media this year that are fit for a runway. Oubre Jr. explained how he began thrifting before becoming financially stable as a way to find some adventurous outfits without overextending himself. Now having successfully made it to the NBA, these habits have not been lost on Oubre Jr.

“I just try to keep it smooth,” Oubre Jr. said. “Just wear what makes me feel good, not what everyone else is wearing.”

There are sure to be plenty of outfits that make waves on social media throughout the season. Oubre Jr. has been off to a strong start during the preseason, although it should be noted he will have some stiff competition teammates such as P.J. Tucker, Tobias Harris, Patrick Beverley, and many others for the most impressive outfit on a nightly basis.

What Oubre Brings to the Sixers

In addition to his off-court flair, Kelly Oubre Jr. also brings a playstyle that has been far too unique to the Sixers in recent years. He arrives in Philadelphia coming off the best statistical season of his career, averaging 20.3 points per game with the Charlotte Hornets last year. He will provide Philadelphia with the most offensive punch off the bench they have had throughout the Joel Embiid era. How consistent his role will be is still to be determined, but Oubre Jr. possesses a microwave scoring ability that has not been seen in the city from a second-unit standout since Nick Young or Lou Williams.

While Oubre has his concerns as a player as well, there are legitimate efficiency issues, and he possesses little feel as a playmaker; he also is the most traditional wing the Sixers have had in several seasons. When comparing him to players like Matisse Thybulle or Jalen McDaniels, there is no doubt that Oubre Jr. is the more complete basketball player by a pretty significant margin. Expectations are uncertain for the eight-year NBA veteran, but he has been the first player off the Sixers bench in preseason and may have the inside track to this role in the regular season.

With a 6-foot-6 frame and a sweet left-handed jumper, his abilities will be a welcomed addition to the Sixers. Getting a 20+ point per game scorer on a minimum contract is incredible value, even if it may raise eyebrows of why there was not more of a market. He possesses the ability to turn it on defensively and has a diverse scoring repertoire on the offensive end.

Oubre Jr. also brings true NBA athleticism, which has been surprisingly difficult to find on a roster filled with guys like Danny Green, Georges Niang, and Furkan Korkmaz. Oubre Jr. has already flashed this ability in the preseason with a put-back dunk of this caliber, simply not being an option on the table for any member of the Sixers in recent years.

The Sixers still have larger concerns as they look to settle the James Harden issues and continue to put in place the Nick Nurse offense. But the addition of Kelly Oubre Jr. is another example of winning within the margins and maximizing value at the bottom end of the roster. While there will be matchups and situations in which Oubre Jr. may not be best suited, he is an excellent weapon to be added to Nurse’s bench options, and there will be nights where this is proven.

Especially in a situation in which last year’s second-leading scorer appears deadset on ever putting on a Sixers uniform again, his offensive talent may prove to be especially valuable. Oubre Jr. has never been on a contender before, with his critics suggesting this is no coincidence, but he is hungry to do just this.

“This team wins every year. Right?” Oubre asked reporters on Sixers media day. “The fan base wants them to win more, but I come from teams where they have no hope. Like zero hope within the whole city, and that’s not this at all. So I appreciate the fan base for being hard on the team.”

How Oubre Jr. will stand up to the litmus test of Philadelphia fans is to be determined. But don’t count out the intensity of the Wells Fargo Center clearing his professional career in a similar way to the mountain bike trails do to his mind.