Wave Papi into the Summer: Kelly Oubre Jr. Opens in Vegas | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wave Papi into the Summer: Kelly Oubre Jr. Opens in Vegas

Updated: July 10, 2016


If you’re familiar with his persona, you know Kelly Oubre is a confident kiddo. Moving around several times when young, he was forced to hit the reset button on environment, friends, himself—his ever-ready swagger is just part of him being comfortable in his own skin. But his rookie season understandably had its ups-and-downs, mostly downs.

Before the 2016 All-Star break, Oubre saw action in 43 games (513 minutes), and even started nine games due to various injuries to teammates. But post-break, as Washington’s season (and Randy Wittman’s NBA head coaching career) passed the brink and started its downslide, Oubre received less opportunity, just 159 minutes over 20 games. During the late-season struggle, he started uncontrollably sobbing in his locker immediately after a tough outing while the media was interviewing teammates. It wasn’t worth publicly relaying at the time, and who knows if it actually had anything to do with basketball, but the struggle was real.

What’s seemingly emerged on the other side is a more confident and in-control Oubre. And living in the world that we do (1), he’s documented that journey on social media—self-imposed nickname: Wave Papi; location: The Trenches; hashtag: #Shhh. The fun of growing up.

Assistant coach Sidney Lowe (who’s leading the summer edition Wizards), is new to the program, but Oubre’s willingness to lead was among his initial observations coming out of pre-summer league mini-camp back in Washington.

“I’ve seen Kelly try to employ some leadership with this group, which is different for a young guy,” said Lowe. “He’s doing a great job of directing guys, communicating to guys, whether it’s on the floor or in the locker room.”

A Vine issued by the team’s official social media account prior to Saturday’s summer league debut provides evidence of Oubre’s conversion. And all throughout the game, Oubre’s leading emotion could be felt—screaming into the air (and toward the Utah bench) after a thunderous dunk by a teammate that Oubre helped produce; leading the distracting yells from the Wizards bench as a Jazz player attempted a corner 3-pointer in close proximity; holding a pose to affirm that he’s a threat after hitting a trey ball over the 7-foot-3 Tibor Pleiss.

Worth mentioning that Oubre is the youngest player on the roster by about two years. He’s not so much leading younger guys but rather commanding respect from older ones.

“Just trying to have fun, trying to make sure everybody knows the positions they need to be at, trying to help guys,” exclaimed Oubre when asked about his vocality afterward. “Trying more so to be a floor general. I don’t have John Wall out here with me to do so, so I kind of got to take over his role right now. But I’m loving it. I’m trying to practice it, trying to be a better leader.”

Oubre started his 2016 summer debut slow (1-5 on shots in the first quarter), later fessin’ up to the all-too-human jitters. But even through that, he never stopped. The signature to his game surfaced on the very first play when he anticipated a passing lane and stole the ball. And while Oubre must continue to hone judgment on when to jump passing lanes, or when to force an attack (plowing into the direction of two or more defenders usually isn’t ideal), the constant aggression he plays with is something coaches wish they could teach. As teammates appeared to be gassed at various junctures of enduring play, Oubre always seemed to propel himself at the same raging speed.

He finished with a team-high 29 minutes and 20 points on (an unideal) 19 shot attempts (2-10 on 3s), but Oubre got to the free throw line seven times, converting six. He added eight rebounds (three offensive), an assist, four steals, and three turnovers to his stat line.

After the game Oubre tried to explain “Wave Papi” (his name on Twitter; his handle is @kellyoubrejr) and how that relates to his mode on-court versus off.

“He’s just a guy … it’s myself, first and foremost. I don’t have any alter egos. That’s myself, I’m Wave Papi. He’s just a cool, calm and collective guy. I play basketball, you know, but when I step on that court I’m a rager. Off the court, I’m alls in, but when I’m on the court I’m a rager, so that’s who Wave Papi is.”

And on his almost always used hashtag of choice, #Shhh: “I don’t talk about it, man, I do it. I lead by example, I don’t lead by words.”

Wave Papi into the Summer.


Oubre on his mentors:

“First and foremost, my dad, God, they’re the biggest mentors of my life. But, you know, my teammates—John (Wall), Brad (Beal), Alan Anderson, Drew Gooden—they are great guys who stay in my ear and make sure that I’m doing the right things, and making sure that I’m focused, and working, and being a professional athlete. That’s big coming from guys who have been there.”

On what he would be doing if not playing basketball:

“Fashion designer, graphic designer, computer nerd, video game expert, probably something along those lines. I’d probably be working with you guys (media), I don’t know. But I’m a basketball player first and foremost, so that’s what I do.”


  1. I’m going to avoid calling Oubre a “millennial” in this write-up even though he’s totally a millennial, according to loose definitions, probably via a non-millennial, that try to define increasingly divergent individual personalities across a time span that ranges from way-too-early Internet days to now.
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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.