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The Miami Heat’s most lethal play: The Kelly Olynyk Keeper

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Kelly Olynyk has become a dynamic part of the Miami Heat offense. His ability to decide split second what to do has made us take notice.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

They’ve termed it the “Olynyk Keeper.” And for a great reason, because he has the ability to decide last minute what to do with the ball.

When the Miami Heat signed Kelly Olynyk to a four-year deal this past summer, they knew they were getting someone who could stretch the floor, set screens and do some dirty work. I don’t know if they saw him orchestrating one of the most lethal plays the Heat have in their arsenal.

It’s the Kelly Olynyk keeper and it is best used in tandem with teammate Wayne Ellington, although others have been used. Here’s how it works:

It starts with Olynyk possessing the ball on the perimeter, sometimes with his dribble and sometimes without. Then he moves towards a player (shooter), in the attempt to set a screen hoping for a handoff. It looks like this.

OK 1

Then, Kelly has the option to either hand the ball off, creating enough space on the screen to give Ellington enough time, which isn’t much, to get off a look from three. But here’s where it gets interesting. Because Ellington is such a good shooter and it takes him very little space and time to get up a quality shot, Olynyk’s defender is always tempted to “show” on the screen until his primary defender can recover.

Olynyk uses this split hesitation by his defender to keep the ball and drive to the basket. It works because of Ellington and it works because Kelly is able to decide, almost like a read-option play, what to do at the last moment.

Here’s what it looks like.

And here’s another one from the same game.

And many times Olynyk is able to score off of these. But it’s important to note that he can also read it correctly, and that’s when his defender does not try to cover Ellington, the result is more deadly for the opponent. Here’s how it looks when Olynyk’s defender stays back to guard against the keeper.

Kelly is averaging a career high 2.7 assists per game this year. That doesn’t seem like much, but the Olynyk Keeper is causing damage to teams trying to defend it. It is one of the most lethal plays the Heat run in their routine offense and it works pretty well.