Oubre was the 15th overall pick in last year’s draft, coming to the Wizards in a deal with the Atlanta Hawks. He appeared in 63 games as rookie, averaging 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds.
“I feel a little bit more comfortable out there,” Oubre said Tuesday night. “I know how these practices go, and I know that we have to go hard in everything that we do. Pick up everything that we do fast and pretty much just not really expect anything because last year I was trying to expect too much coming in to these practices, and I was kind of getting myself overwhelmed.”
Oubre, 20, took part in a drill near the end of practice in which he was responsible for stopping multiple opponents from scoring. Those trying to score against Oubre were allowed only two dribbles before having to shoot. Oubre more than held his own, although he indicated afterward he was not completely satisfied with his performance.
Improving defensively was a primary focus for Oubre during the offseason, and he admitted there’s still much to work on in that respect over the next two days. After minicamp concludes Thursday, Oubre will be among the group making the trip to Las Vegas for three summer league games starting Saturday.
“I’m an energetic player,” he said. “I come in and I try to first and foremost start on the defensive end because that’s what God blessed me with, length and athletic ability, so I feel that’s kind of my calling card, coming out and trying to get stops.”
During his first year in the league, Oubre showed signs of the potential that prompted the Wizards to trade two draft picks — a 2015 first-rounder and 2016 second-rounder — to acquire the 6-foot-7 Kansas product on draft night last year. Oubre spent one season with the Jayhawks before declaring for the NBA draft.
Injuries forced then-coach Randy Wittman to go to Oubre in mid-December. Over a 19-game stretch that included nine starts, Oubre averaged 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19.3 minutes. He shot 43.9 percent from three-point range and defended well by using a 7-3 wingspan to fluster opponents.
But shortly after Otto Porter Jr. came back from injury, Oubre’s minutes began to fluctuate. Without assurances of consistent playing time, Oubre often pressed while on the floor, generally yielding poor results.
This summer, Oubre said, is about continuing to learn to play within his means while offering any guidance to others trying to earn a roster spot.
“Sometimes players can come back and sort of feel that they’re the guy and around the other players make them feel that they’re different because they’ve been around, because they were on the team, and he hasn’t done that,” Wizards assistant Sidney Lowe, who’s directing Washington’s summer league team, said of Oubre. “You can see him with the other players, with the guys that are really trying to make this team, he’s talking to them. He’s helping them out.”