Kelly Olynyk starting to figure out NBA
|02.13.14 at 9:25 pm ET|
This is the Kelly Olynyk that Danny Ainge saw all along.
Heading into his first All-Star weekend, the rookie is showing real signs of finally getting into an NBA groove.
In 31 minutes Wednesday night, Olynyk had 15 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. On Monday night, in a win in Milwaukee, the rookie out of Gonzaga had 14 points and 11 rebounds in 21 minutes. He’ll take the momentum with him to New Orleans for the Rising Stars game Friday night, joining teammate Jared Sullinger on Team Webber.
In six games in February, Olynyk is averaging eight points, 6.7 rebounds and 20 minutes off the bench. Drafted 13th overall by the Mavericks last June and immediately acquired by Ainge in a trade, Olynyk was seen as an athletic big man who could draw bigs out of the paint, shoot effectively and create his own shot on drives to the basket.
“He’s starting to get a good feel for [the offense],” coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday of Olynyk. “There’s a base offense, there’s a set offense, and then there’s play-in and space and understanding and picking where your opportunities are when you have those kind of structured-but-unstructured opportunities. And he’s really starting to figure that out. On all the pick and rolls where he’s playing off, whether he’s rolling, whether he’s picking and popping, whether he’s playing in the seam and then when he catches, where does he go from there?
“Does he drive it? Does he pass it? Does he go into hand-offs? He’s got a really good feel for the game and he’s starting to really pick up where people are around him, which is opening up opportunities for himself and others. And then I think defensively he’s just been more aggressive to the ball, and I think that that’s part of his rebounding is purely going after the basketball and not just being a guy that gets his guy off.”
Olynyk picked up his second straight double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a 104-92 loss to the Spurs at TD Garden. Those are the first two double-doubles of his career.
“I’m definitely trying to be aggressive, trying to open some things up for other guys out there and just take advantage when stuff is there,” Olynyk said.
“The thing about minutes is the more you play, the more opportunity you’re going to have. Sometimes you’re going to have four rebounds in a minute and a half. Other times, you’ll go six or seven minutes without a rebound.”
With increased playing time comes more assertiveness. “It’s definitely something that comes playing more,” Olynyk conceded.
Olynyk is wise not to complain about playing time because he knows that not only is he paying his dues but he’s getting valuable time on the bench to watch exactly what Stevens needs from him on the floor.
His development was stunted somewhat by a sprained ankle that caused him to miss 10 games in late November and early December. His minutes average went from a season-high 23.6 minutes in November down to 14 and 16 in December and January respectively. Olynyk started six games in November but has been relegated to the bench for his development ever since.