What is Miami Heat big man Kelly Olynyk‘s role really, on the 2018-19 team?
Over the years, the Miami Heat have been known for a lot of things.
Lately, one of those things is head coach Erik Spoelstra’s love for positionless basketball; something that the fanbase seems torn over.
On the one hand, seeing a player like Bam Adebayo successfully handle the ball coast-to-coast, is undeniably exciting. It’s not often that a baller of his size is comfortable taking on the tasks of playmaking, ball-handling and scoring,
But obviously, at the end of the day, a 7-foot center is not going to have the same skill-set nor athleticism, as say 6-foot-3 Goran Dragic. So while Adebayo having the capability to run the floor well is a great situational advantage, it shouldn’t be something the coaching staff defaults to.
The same can be said when it comes to Justise Winslow, who was drafted as a forward with elite defensive skills, but is now often being utilized as a playmaker at the point guard position. Having the fourth-year eager to take on a new challenge certainly speaks to both his commitment to the organization and his strong work ethic, but there’s an argument to be made that having him fill the one spot, has only added to his shooting woes.
Spoelstra’s so-called positionless system also seems to be affecting Kelly Olynyk.
In 21 games, he’s averaged 8.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists a game, in 18.7 minutes of play; numbers that don’t necessarily jump off the page.
What’s more concerning though, is how inconsistent his play has been so far.
Although he’s had a handful of impressive showings, such as against the Indiana Pacers on November 9, when he finished with 20 points in 21 minutes on 6-of-8 shooting (including going 3-for-5 from downtown), alongside four rebounds and two assists, he also recorded the likes of just three points and two rebounds in 16 minutes, versus the Sacramento Kings on October 29.
So what gives?
A good guess would be that not having a well-defined role on the team, may be impeding his performance.
Which includes being sidelined due to the classic “Do Not Play: Coach’s Decision” reasoning, on a few occasions earlier in the year.
“Obviously you want to play and you expect to play,” Olynyk said. “But Coach has decisions to make and that’s the decision he made. You respect it.”
Respect or not, being yanked from the team’s lineup for no apparent reason, doesn’t exactly instill confidence in oneself, moving forward.
The good news is, there’s still plenty of time for things to turn around for the 27-year-old.
In fact, he had a standout performance in last night’s win over the Utah Jazz. Olynyk totaled 16 points in 29 minutes on 4-of-8 shooting (3-for-6 from beyond-the-arc), as well as eight rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal.
He also has led the Heat in fourth quarter shooting over the past three contests, with 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
So hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before the big man finds his footing again.
The Miami Heat have a winner in Olynyk; now it’s just time to prioritize using him properly.