Kurtenbach: Kelly Oubre’s Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde play is the Warriors’ biggest issue

Peninsula Premier Admin

As I wrote earlier this month, Kelly Oubre is an $80 million problem for the Warriors. There have been some short reprieves, but the problem persists.

I’m not here to say that Oubre is overpaid — most of that money is luxury tax, and there’s no virtue in Warriors CEO Joe Jacob, who has been printing money for a half-decade, being cheap. But I can say that the Warriors need more from their wing.

There was a moment where Oubre looked like he found a role with the second unit. That spark has fizzled.

Then the Warriors moved James Wiseman — who was getting in the way of Oubre, a la Clint Cappella and Russell Westbrook in Houston last season — to the bench. That has only put more onus on Oubre on the offensive end.

Sometimes that works out for the Dubs — Oubre was spectacular in the second Warriors contest against Minnesota earlier this week. Sometimes, that’s a terrible thing for Golden State — Oubre’s play against the Suns on Thursday left the Dubs incredulous, as he shot nine percent from the field, constantly running into three, four defenders on ill-advised drives, all while being just as bad on the defensive end.

Thursday was arguably the worst game of Oubre’s short Warriors career. The fact that it can be argued highlights the problem.

The floor cannot be that low for a veteran like Oubre. It doesn’t matter if the Warriors are paying $80 million or the league minimum, if the Warriors want to avoid the play-in tournament that masquerades as the real playoffs, they need more from a starter.

And if Oubre cannot avoid the Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde act, then the Warriors need to move on from him. They’re better off with consistent play from a less talented player than this roller-coaster ride.

On that same note: The Warriors have other issues than Oubre, of course.

One of them: Golden State cannot count for even 10 combined points from their starting power forward and center, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney.

Because of that, they need to get at least 60 from their other three starters. And that’s giving the second unit, led by small-ball center Eric Paschall, the benefit of the doubt on a nightly basis.

And so we’re back to Oubre.

Over the last eight games going into Saturday’s showdown with the Pistons, Steph Curry, Oubre, and Andrew Wiggins have scored 60 or more total points four times. They went 3-1 in those games. In the four games they did not account for 60 points, they lost three and won only one.

Curry is holding up his end of the argument. He’s actually scoring fewer points in Warriors wins since the end of their long homestead this month. Wiggins has generally been solid and reliable this season — somehow, someway, he’s become a winning player.

But in those same eight games post-homestand, Oubre has averaged 18 points in wins and 7.5 points in losses.

A five-point swing? That’s understandable. A double-digit swing? That won’t do.

Yes, the Warriors have other issues, but those only serve to highlight Oubre’s struggles.

Another thought: Despite the disjointedness and frustration, let’s be honest, this is where the Warriors should be. When you deal with this much year-over-year change, it would be ridiculous to expect immediate cohesion. When you factor in the intricacies of the Warriors’ offense, the learning curve is even higher.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr put a 20-game mark on when he’d have a read on his team. While I think he made a decision well before then, it is a good point of demarkation.

The fact remains that the season is only a quarter finished and the Warriors have neither impressed nor disqualified themselves.

They have not won three in a row nor lost three in a row. They’ve both beaten and lost to the best teams in the NBA. They lack a terrible loss. Yes, being blown out by the Knicks at home shouldn’t sit well, but the Knicks are playing good ball.

This Warriors season is yet to be defined after seven weeks, and, barring serious injury, I doubt that it will be defined in the final six weeks of the first half.

The Warriors have operated in the extremes for so long — unparalleled excellence for five seasons and then a cacophony of bad last season — that being mundane is a stark and jarring departure.

This is life in “the real NBA” as Kerr has dubbed it. It’s going to take a while to acclimate.

Contributed by local news sources

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