Kelly Olynyk changed teams. Last season, he was with the Celtics. But the Celtics had to clear salary space to sign Gordon Hayward and that meant Kelly Olynyk was out the door. The Celtics would have loved to keep Olynyk because of his shooting range, his ability to get boards and battle inside, his dirty/gritty play and that Olynyk has done what most thought he woud not do: he made himself relevant in the league. That’s a plus in Danny Ainge’s eyes. But the math just didn’t work. Olynyk, a free agent looking for a job, signed a deal with the Miami Heat.
In the four year $50 million deal with a player option, if Olynyk made the playoffs and he played 1,700 minutes, he was awarded a $1.0 million bonus. That’s gas money for Kevin Durant but Olynyk is only making $10 million so it’s an additional ten percent, kind of like a bonus for a job well done. How well?
He’s played a career high 24 minutes a game. He’s taken the most shots of his career and made the most shots. HIs three ball is the second highest of his career. Rebounds, assists and points are a career high. As is PER. He is part of the best offensive lineup the Heat put on the floor and is one of the reasons Hassan Whiteside sulks on the bench in certain 4th quarter Spoelstra rotations. Olynyk can space the floor and guard shooters plus drain the three at a 37% clip. His bonus money is well earned.
Olynyk has played in 73 games. After the All-Star break, he has been killing it. +17.6. 38% from three. Offensive Rating of 121 and Defensive Rating of 105. True Shooting % of 63% but only a 21% Usage Rate. 51% shooting and 4 assists.
On Wednesday against the Hawks, he was fire. Officially, he earned his $1.0 million, after playing more than the 1,700 minutes required. He had five 3-pointers, 19 points. When Miami went on a 14-0 run against the tanking Hawks in the second quarter, it was because Olynyk was draining three after three.
Olynyk was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 2013 and traded to the Celtics. He was a late lottery pick from Canada out of Gonzaga who redshirted in the middle of his Gonzaga experience. Still, there was a lot of debate on where the Academic All-American fit. Could a bench player for the Zags (two out of three years) have a NBA impact? Gonzaga isn’t filling the NBA up with talent.
Olynyk has shrugged off the dirty player disses (he was accused of trying to intentionally injury Kevin Love in the playoffs) but at the very least everyone acknowledges he does play hard. He has to. He isn’t gifted with elegant talent. The Heat are the perfect team for Olynyk. The Heat are the hardest playing team in the NBA and Olynyk fits right in with the culture of being physical, exhibiting toughness and not complaining.
So far 2017-18 has been everything Olynyk hoped it would be when he signed with Miami. He has two more seasons before his player option in 2020-21. But first the playoffs and a top seed to knock off as underdogs. Here’s the thing. Already, 2017-18 has been a success. The Miami Heat did what they couldn’t do last year, get to the playoffs. Olynyk was part of the Spoelstra/Riley recipe of either you are getting better or you are getting worse.
The Heat and Kelly Olynyk are better.