Kelly Olynyk missed 7 straight games for the Heat and they went 2-5 during that stretch. They were struggling before he hurt his shoulder. But his absence and return marks a clear distinction in how the Heat can play.
His ability to stretch the floor and his intelligence on both ends of the court are vital to making the Heat successful. This season, Kelly is averaging 10.8 PPG and 5.4 RPG appearing in 56 games with 22 starts.
But what is most recognizable about the impact that Olynyk makes on the Heat are where he stands in 3-man, 4-man and 5-man lineups for the Heat.
Basketball-reference.com breaks down the stats for us to make it easy. But the reason we look at each of those is because they each tell a slightly different story. A 5-man lineup tells the story of one specific lineup. A 4-man lineup gives some flexibility on the other player, and a 3-man lineup really brings to the front the combo of players that are bringing it for their team.
On each case, this is how Kelly Olynyk ranks for the Heat in net +/- per 100 possessions.
5-man lineup: appears in 6 of the top 8 for the team
4-man lineup: appears in 7 of the top 8 for the team
3-man lineup: appears in 5 of the top 7 for the team
All that to say, in summary, that Olynyk on the floor typically is turning into positive outcomes for the team. But is also depends on who he is with.
Having Wayne Ellington and Josh Richardson by his side make him and his lineups the most lethal. His top 5-man unit consists of Josh Richardson and 3 other bench players: Wayne Ellington, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Johnson (now turned starter). His top 4-man unit removes Tyler Johnson.
The best 5-man lineup the Heat have in terms of +/- was* their default starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside. But with Waiters now out for the season, we won’t see that again.
Of the top 20 lineups for each one, Olynyk does not have a negative +/- in any 4-man or 3-man unit. He does appear in a few 5-man lineups, but only one in which he is not cast as the center.
Olynyk is pretty important to what the Heat are trying to accomplish on both ends of the floor. His ability to stretch the floor, and even come off screens for a three is good to open up the middle. His read-zone type hand-off on some screens where he either chooses to hand the ball off or keep it, especially with Ellington is a great tool for the Heat and catches teams off guard.
On the other end of the floor, his ability to take charges (ranks in top 30 in per/game), and contest perimeter shots are important. He does lack some toughness that Adebayo or Whiteside have to make up for, but clearly when he is on the floor it is working.
Kelly is averaging a career high 23.3 minutes per game this season. Career high in points and rebounds and assists as well. Now that he is back from his injured shoulder, hopefully he finds his way right back to his productive self.
Olynyk signed a 4-year contract with the Heat in 2017, so get used to seeing him on the court making a difference.