Last season the Miami Heat thrived with Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters running the team's drive and kick offense. Sometimes those shoots just aren't falling, however, so Miami could try a different approach. Turns out two players, who saw limited action last year, plus a new addition could provide added flavors for plain vanilla three-point scoring.
Kelly Olynyk's height doesn't make him a NBA-level defender. He'll need Hassan Whiteside and James Johnson by his side as enforcers. Boston.com gave an honest take on his game.
After averaging 14.4 points per game through the Celts’ first eight games, Olynyk has cratered, putting up just over seven per game in their last nine with a couple of donuts sprinkled in there. He recently went through a four-game stretch in which he shot a mind-boggling 3-for-21 from the floor.
He works hard but no amount of preparation can make up for the fact that he’s simply not equipped physically to deal with the rigors of being a traditional NBA big man on defense....He piles up fouls, making it difficult for him to get into any kind of rhythm. He’s just not strong or quick or big enough regardless of his height.
Draft Express has the best way to use Olynyk on the floor next season.
Olynyk has matched his physical development with a dramatically different approach on the offensive end. Content to spot-up away from the rim and fire jump shots from the perimeter early in his career, the big man has embraced his role as post-scorer and finisher this season, doing a significant better job utilizing his size to his advantage in the paint.
What makes Olynyk unique is his versatility and skill level for a 7-footer. By no means a flashy scorer and far from a freak athlete, the inside-outside threat can use his size and soft touch to score in the post, finish his opportunities at the rim, and step out and make shots from the perimeter.
Adding three other players from Miami's team who converted at least 75% of the time on their post touches gives the team four guys with the ability to score off the block.
- Justise Winslow 80.0%
- Kelly Olynyk 75.2%
- Josh Richardson 75.0%
- Wayne Ellington 75.0%
Miami has other 7-footers, but they’re not crafty enough in the post to take advantage of their size and strength.
- Hassan Whiteside 64.5%
- A.J. Hammons 42.9%
In a piece titled, Project Post-Up: Wade and Winslow, former Heat assistant coach David Fizdale and Dwyane Wade focused on teaching Winslow post-up moves.
For 15-20 minutes after the Miami HEAT’s practice on Friday (once media was allowed in the gym) Wade and assistant coach David Fizdale ran Winslow through a number of post situations, going over move and counter-move sequencing as well as defensive coverages. Fizdale, you might remember, spent time in Atlanta teaching Joe Johnson how to operate off the block before coming to Miami and becoming a pivotal figure in the post-development of both Wade and LeBron James.
Later on, Wade said patience was the key to working on the block.
Patience. You want to get down there and you want to go. But you have to have patience in the post. The best players, they have all the patience in the world and they get you to do what they want you to do.
It’s tough when you’re going quick. When you get the ball in the post you take a moment, glance at the court. I look at myself as a playmaker. I have to keep the defense honest. When I put my head down and I go to dribble, I’m easy to guard. I’m a playmaker first. I’m looking and scanning, [so] now the defense can’t just be waiting on me because I can make a pass.
I highlighted the part where Wade points out he's easy to guard when he puts his head down and goes to dribble. That's a common rookie mistake that works in schoolyards, but not against the experienced and quick defenders in the NBA.
In Miami’s first preseason game against Charlotte, Erik Spoelstra appeared to run a deliberate cross-screening action to get Winslow a catch on the block.
As an example below is a clip of the New Orleans Pelicans running cross-screens and their potential to score or find players with high-efficiency shoots.
Adding Olynyk to a healthy Winslow and Richardson this year gives Miami four players scoring at a 75% or higher clip working off the block. Without three of them on the court most or all of last season, the Heat didn't run those plays often, because other ones were more suited to players Spo had available.
This season everyone expects more of the same drive and kick, but the Heat may mix it up with more selections from their playbook. Who realized that Winslow and Richardson shot 75% or more on post touches?
Olynyk won't be Miami's rim-protector this coming season. Spoelstra may have other plans for Kelly: as Miami's 7-foot point guard.
Since Kelly Olynyk didn't grow to be a 7-footer until his junior year of high school, he spent almost all of his youth playing the point guard position. Olynyk grew up with the ball in his hands, so that has left an imprint on his game as a big man. He has great dribbling ability and is able to get where he wants with the ball. When Olynyk receives the ball on the wing, elbow, point, or top of the key, he is a major threat to put the ball on the floor and drive to the hole. Once he gets in the lane he is very quick to recognize what he should do, whether he establishes post positioning, pulls up with a shot, or goes all the way to the rim for a layup.
Spoelstra knows how to get the most out of each player on the Heat by factoring in both their strengths and weaknesses. Instead of sticking Winslow in the corner, he may put him on the block, where his size, strength and superior footwork gives him an edge. Instead of Olynyk being abused under the rim, Kelly could display his considerable ball-handling abilities against smaller defenders.
We're certain to see an added dimension to the Heat’s game plan this year. Maybe enough to prove the doubters wrong in their predictions.