The Warriors acted quickly in the trade market after losing star guard Klay Thompson for the season to a torn Achilles.
Hours after announcing the extent of Thompson’s injury, Golden State acquired forward Kelly Oubre Jr. from the Thunder in exchange for a top-20 protected 2021 NBA Draft pick. Oubre Jr., 24, has made major strides since entering the league. He averaged 3.7 points per game as rookie in 2015-16 but has since elevated his scoring to a career-high 18.7 points per game this past season. Like new teammate Andrew Wiggins, he carries untapped defensive potential.
Oklahoma City, meanwhile, continued its tireless pursuit of draft picks. The Thunder want to be one of the best teams in the NBA come the mid-2020s and are establishing a sturdy framework for that intended rise. They will likely have an average of more than two first-round selections per year through 2026.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti has been active this week, absorbing Al Horford’s contract so the organization could get a future first-rounder from the 76ers and sending Dennis Schroder to the Lakers for additional draft compensation.
Golden State will probably continue to seek out options for improving its roster without Thompson amid a familiar cap squeeze.
Below is an in-depth breakdown of the trade that netted the Warriors Kelly Oubre Jr.:
How did Kelly Oubre get to Golden State?
Kelly Oubre Jr. was selected out of Kansas by the Hawks in 2015 and traded to the Wizards on draft night. He was sent to the Suns in 2018.
The Thunder acquired Kelly Oubre Jr. earlier this week in a deal that sent Chris Paul to Phoenix. General manager Sam Presti then opted to build on his stockpile of draft picks rather than try to extend Oubre Jr., whose contract is up after the 2020-21 campaign.
Presti found an eager trade partner in the Warriors, who view Oubre Jr. as an ideal fit for their switch-heavy defensive scheme.
What does this trade say about the Warriors’ mindset?
The Warriors were caught by surprise when they lost Klay Thompson for the season Wednesday because of a workout injury. But the setback didn’t alter their goal of making a playoff push this year. Simply put, they couldn’t afford to tank again with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green likely in the final years of their respective primes. So, they decided to use their primary offseason asset — a $17.2 million trade exception — to add a player who will instantly recover some of the production voided by Thompson’s Achilles tear.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is no Thompson, of course, but he will nonetheless enter the lineup trying his best to provide the type of two-way boost Thompson had used to help Golden State dominate the Western Conference. He is set to join a starting core that includes Curry, Green, Andrew Wiggins and No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman.
Why did the Warriors want Kelly Oubre?
Golden State needed a solid all-around player more than a pure scorer or defensive specialist. After all, the Warriors still have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green to anchor those roles.
In Kelly Oubre Jr., the team gets someone with experience playing three positions (shooting guard, small forward and power forward) who excels playing away from the ball offensively. He’s an improving catch-and-shoot player and someone who can get his points in transition. He should be a nice complement to Curry and Andrew Wiggins, the squad’s likely go-to bucket getters.
On the defensive end, Oubre Jr. remains a work in progress. His strength lies in his ability to guard different positions with his 6-7 height and long reach. The Warriors are hopeful being next to former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green can elevate his consistency.
What did the Thunder receive in the Kelly Oubre trade?
The Thunder received a top-20 protected first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. If the selection conveys, the team will have three first-round choices in 2021 alone.
Oklahoma City also created a $14.4 million trade exception from the transaction, according to ESPN.