Olynyk Will Thrive With Miami Heat
Boston Celtics Had No Space For Game Seven Hero
Kelly Olynyk played his best game as a Celtic when they needed it most, draining 26 points against the Washington Wizards to lift Boston to a seven-game series win over the Washington Wizards. He scored 14 in the fourth quarter, sinking a dagger into Washington’s playoff run. Why would the Celtics let a playoff hero like Olynyk walk for nothing in return?
Signing Gordon Hayward to a max contract forced the Celtics to shed salary. Avery Bradley was another cap casualty triggered by the big signing. Bradley was traded to the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris, saving the Celtics three million against the cap. Morris has another year on his contract, while Bradley’s a free agent after this season, further improving Boston’s bottom line.
There was no way the Celtics could afford to pay Kelly Olynyk anything close to market value without going over the apron, which would trigger penalties and restrictions on player transactions. As a result, Pat Riley swopped in and scooped Kelly as a free agent for a very reasonable 4-year, $50 million deal. Considering the NBA’s shift beyond the arc, Kelly’s ability to shoot the three as a big man could make the Miami Heat front office look like geniuses.
Another Miami Heat Reclamation Project
The Miami Heat were the most surprising team in the NBA last season, considered dead in the water after an 11-30 start to the regular season. Somehow, the Heat transformed mid-season, ripping off a 13-win streak which included a Dion Waiters buzzer beater against the Golden State Warriors. Miami turned into one of the hottest teams in the second half of the season, nearly sneaking into the playoffs with a 30-11 run to end their campaign.
Dion Waiters morphed into a steel-nerved scorer, James Johnson fulfilled his promise as an athletic forward who hits threes, and Hassan Whiteside continued his development as a dominant player in the paint. Goran Dragic held the offense together by reclaiming the bully point guard style that served him well before he was traded away from the Phoenix Suns. These key contributors arrived from teams that didn’t want them, but they gelled in time to set a new NBA record: best second half winning percentage for a non-playoff team.
Coach Erik Spoelstra deserves much of the credit for molding the undervalued talent Miami scouts from around the NBA. The Heat signed Kelly Olynyk with the goal of making him into a player who’s far more valuable than expected.
Kelly Olynyk Could Be Miami’s Jumpshot Jesus
When reports announced that Chris Bosh was dealing with blood clots again, the Heat lost their MVP in the post-LeBron era. Prior to joining Miami as part of the big three, Bosh was the alpha dog on the Raptors, leading the team to its first playoff appearance since the Vince Carter era.
With Bosh’s career in jeopardy, the Heat were looking for someone to contribute a similar set of skills. Kelly Olynyk will never be mistaken for Chris Bosh, but he’s exactly the type of player that Miami needs. Miami finished 12th in three-point attempts and percentage in 2016-17, ranking 21st in points scored. The Heat featured decent, three-point shooting from Dragic and Waiters, but the rest of the squad was ordinary. Olynyk will be the third shooting threat for the Heat.
As a seven-footer, he’ll drag opposing centers and power forwards away from the hoop, giving Whiteside and Dragic space to attack the paint. In fact, Kelly may be uniquely suited to Miami’s offense. Coach Spoelstra’s known for running creative corner three sets, and Olynyk hits 51% of his three-point shots from that spot on the floor.
The main knock against Olynyk tends to be defense, but he was playing with a Celtics team that featured one of the worst defenders in the association. With the Heat, Kelly can rely on Whiteside, Dragic and Johnson for defensive help, gifting him extra energy for offensive production.
If he stays healthy, Kelly Olynyk will enjoy the best numbers of his career. He should fit into Erik Spoelstra’s offensive schemes as a shooter, while Whiteside focuses on rim protection and post scoring. The fourth year of Kelly’s contract will be a player option. If he turns into Miami’s “Jumpshot Jesus”, Olynyk will be looking at a big raise in four years.
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