clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Can Kelly Olynyk find his groove like Justise Winslow did for the Miami Heat?

New, comments

After Justise Winslow found his calling will Kelly Olynyk be next in line to thrive?

NBA: Miami Heat at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat are warmed up for the final 48-game home stretch of the NBA by seemingly finding their own unique style of play.

Justise Winslow has gotten his fair share of attention lately, and Dion Waiters is set to muscle his way into the spotlight next week after an extended injury absence.

One player lost in the latest Heat blitz might prove to have an unexpected positive impact down the stretch, namely Kelly Olynyk. Say what?

Just like putting Winslow in the corner waiting for the ball had mixed results, the attempted transformation of Olynyk into a pull-up jump shooter like Damian Lillard hasn’t worked out this season, because the mischievous Olynyk is a habitual keeper.

Whether going mano-a-mano on offense or defense he doesn’t have the elite reflexes to make difference in that part of the game.

But Olynyk has the superior court vision and basketball IQ to once again become the game-changer he was last season as the maestro of the Miami off-the-ball movement offensive sets.

In the 24-point win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Olynyk exhibited how he finds the smallest of openings and instantly exploits them for timely finishes at the rim.

In this clip Olynyk catches the Cavaliers players ball-watching for a second and hooks up with Dwyane Wade for a pretty backdoor cut.

In the second clip Olynyk comes out of nowhere to run by three listless Cavaliers players pretending to play defense.

With his pump-fakes, keepers, smart cuts, Olynyk seems to enjoy tricking opponents with his mind, rather than challenging players in one-on-one confrontations: you hardly see Olynyk flex his muscles like Hassan Whiteside after a dunk.

The numbers over the last twelve games reveal Olynyk’s failure as a pull-up jump shooter (12% FG), and success from (74%) from paint touches.

C&S - catch and shoot
Pull UP - pull up jumpers
Paint - Touches in the paint
Post - Touches in the post
Elbow - Touches in the elbow

Field goal percentages by playtypes for previous 12 games

Player Drive C&S Pull Up Paint Post Elbow eFG%
Player Drive C&S Pull Up Paint Post Elbow eFG%
Derrick Jones Jr. 33.3 33.3 0.0 61.5 0.0 0.0 59.8
Tyler Johnson 30.8 45.6 27.3 100.0 0.0 75.0 58.8
Justise Winslow 56.0 45.8 36.7 60.0 100.0 50.0 58.3
James Johnson 63.0 20.8 35.7 81.8 0.0 75.0 56.5
Rodney McGruder 26.3 51.2 25.0 44.4 0.0 0.0 54.2
Bam Adebayo 33.3 36.4 37.5 66.7 50.0 40.0 54.1
Hassan Whiteside 80.0 30.0 16.7 53.6 66.7 18.2 54.1
Kelly Olynyk 54.5 33.3 12.5 73.7 66.7 50.0 50.0
Josh Richardson 30.3 39.7 35.3 44.4 0.0 0.0 45.4
Dwyane Wade 43.5 27.8 26.1 57.1 33.3 100.0 39.4
TEAM 44.5 38.1 30.0 61.3 50.0 40.4 51.4
RANK 27 7 30 19 15 28 19

Derrick Jones Jr. high EFG% surprises, but needs to be adjusted by the fact that teams don’t pressure him as the Heat’s primary scorer.

As a team the Heat have gone 8-4 while ranking last in pull-up jump shots in the same period, according to the figures.

Whiteside stands out by converting on 80% his drives to the rim, while the Brothers Johnson, Tyler and James, excel on converting their paint touches, 100% and 82% respectively.

Olynyk pump-faked his way out of Boston with the Celtics, because with every fake he converted, he missed them more often than not.

In the article Let it fly: how the pump fake is killing the Celtics, the author writes,

“I remember Avery Bradley saying once that the team was trying to pass up good shots for great shots. That’s all well and good, but sometimes, especially against good defensive teams….a good shot is all you’re going to get.”

“The biggest example of this hesitation to be “greedy” is Olynyk. Part of me doesn’t blame him. He’s a 7-foot match up nightmare that can take opposing big men off the dribble and see over smaller defenders to make the right pass. He’s not a prototypical playmaker, but he’s a point guard at heart and would seemingly rather see a teammate score than himself.”

“Unfortunately, that can manifest itself in a split second of doubt and for anyone that’s played basketball, you know that the slightest disruption in rhythm can throw everything off. You get in that three point stance, ready to catch and shoot, but you pump fake, put the ball on the floor, and put up an awkward shot instead.”

What to do? Since Olynyk won’t change his approach to games, time to follow the same blueprint that worked for Winslow thus far.

Because the Canadian loves outwitting his opponents by catching them napping, whether on shot-fakes, hand-offs or backdoor cuts, he’s the maestro of team that drives other players crazy with their smart off-the-ball movements.

The game slows down for Olynyk when he’s in the vortex of players spinning around him in different directions while he surveys the pandemonium on the court.

Once he finds an open route to the rim in the most unexpected fashion, he makes quick move to the rim by himself or with an unexpected pass to a teammate.

The game becomes fun again, the energy level goes up, the free throws start dropping, and wins pile up for the Heat.

Stats courtesy of NBA Stats