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Tsunami effect: When Kelly Oubre plays big, Suns tend to win

Phoenix Suns' Kelly Oubre Jr. celebrates late in the team's NBA basketball game against Orlando Magic on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

There are too many advanced statistics available to the public alone to dissect individual NBA players. Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams is filing through some of those and likely more in-house stats to determine his best players and best matchups.

When it comes to basic box scores, however, one thing is starting to stand out.

Forward Kelly Oubre Jr. having a productive night of head-bangs and blown kisses usually means the Suns have a good chance of winning a game.

The latest example came Sunday night, when Oubre scored 25 points to go along with 15 rebounds, two blocks and three steals in a 100-92 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Below, we take a look at some advanced stats and some not so complex to understand how Oubre is impacting Phoenix, which after two wins in a row over the Orlando Magic and Hornets remains in the busy Western Conference mix with a 16-23 record.

Magic number

Phoenix’s record when Oubre scores 20 or more points is 11-7, accounting for all but five wins and only seven of 23 losses.

Plus-minus correlating with wins, too?

The Suns have won only two games, on Nov. 23 against the Timberwolves and Dec. 5 against the Pelicans, when Oubre has recorded a negative game plus-minus.

The averages

In 16 wins, Oubre has averaged 21.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 0.9 blocks and 1.7 steals.

Those numbers all dip in losses: to 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.6 blocks and 1.3 steals.

Still breaking out

He’s scored 20 or more points 18 times so far in 2019-20, but Oubre had surpassed that mark just 23 times through his first four NBA seasons. None came in his first two years, even though he made 142 appearances over that span.

Only 11 of his 41 games of 20 points or more came as a member of the Washington Wizards, who drafted Oubre 15th overall in 2015 following his single season in college at Kansas.

It’s a reminder that the 24-year-old, who joined the Suns last December, is still fresh from breaking out.

Good on both ends

By NBAMath.com’s Total Points Added model, Oubre is the only Suns player producing plus numbers on both ends of the floor. He is a positive in Offensive Points Added (OPA) and Defensive Points Saved (DPS). Those two add up to find total TPA, and Oubre is third-best on the team in that regard.

Devin Booker (39 TPA) and Mikal Bridges (17 TPA) lead Oubre’s TPA of 11.

Active hands

Oubre is deflecting 3.3 shots per game, tied for 10th-most in the NBA and with the likes of the savvy and physical Thunder point guard Chris Paul, the Magic’s Swiss Army Knife defender Jonathan Isaac and the Spurs’ lanky young guard Dejounte Murray.

Best pairings

By two-man lineup NET ratings, Oubre best pairs with Deandre Ayton, who the advanced stats are liking a lot through just nine games of play. They produce a 10.9 NET in 210 minutes together so far.

The Oubre-Bridges tandem on the wings is second with a 7.9 NET, and Phoenix has used it as a small-ball combo alongside Ayton to close the last two games.

By minutes played together on the team this year, the Oubre-Devin Booker duo leads the way with 987 minutes of court-time. That combo holds a 0.2 NET rating.


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