Throughout the season, "flow" has been Kelly Olynyk's mantra when describing his style as an NBA player. The flow, or the zone, allows players to slow the game down and let everything come naturally.
Olynyk's constant goal this year has been to find the flow, but it hasn't been such a smooth journey. The adjustment from college to the pros isn't very easy, plus he was sidelined for nearly a month due to a sprained right ankle. However, he is now healthy and on an upward trend to close the year.
Since All-Star Weekend, the Boston Celtics rookie big man has been totally in the zone. Olynyk's having the best stretch of his young career and he's quickly becoming a fan favorite because his production on the court is starting to match his long, free-flowing hair.
Part of Kelly Olynyk's success is due to his constantly improving three-point jumper. In the past 13 games, the 7-foot rookie is shooting 11-for-27 from three, or a sensational 40.7 percent.
For a big man, this is a valuable tool to have. It spreads the floor, which opens up the paint for teammates to score. But it also allows Kelly more room to operate to make plays for himself and others.
He says, "Guys are flying at you, then you can put [the ball] on the floor and make plays for other guys by getting into the teeth of the defense."
But why are opponents starting to close out hard on Olynyk? Kelly has found the flow and he's now a consistent three-point threat, which has taken his overall game to another level.
Kelly Olynyk has gotten more accustomed to the speed of the NBA during each stage of his season. Before he turned his ankle in mid-November, Olynyk was struggling from three-point range, at 18.2 percent.
As the video shows, Olynyk never seemed entirely comfortable. His shots came out slow, flat, and they lacked arc.
On top of that, he would often hesitate even if he had an open look at the rim. This was a result of his lack of confidence, but also his shortage of flow at the time.
After returning on December 13th, Olynyk was immediately more productive from downtown. He shot 35.1 percent from three until the All-Star break, which helped earn him a roster spot on the Rising Stars team.
But since then, Olynyk is killing it from three-point range, knocking down threes at a clip of 40.7 percent. Olynyk is no longer indecisive when he receives a pass because of his renewed confidence.
"We've told him to shoot every single second since he's been here. He just started listening," joked coach Brad Stevens.
"He's been listening, he was just hesitant. I remember going down to [the Orlando Summer League] and saying he's got to not be a reluctant shooter. He has to be an aggressive offensive player and scorer. Now he's becoming more of that."
Kelly's aggression as a scorer has led to his heightened production in the past 13 games, but it's interesting to note that his "flow" could be just as much physical as it is mental.
When attempting jump shots, there are generally two techniques used. One is called "the hop" and the other is "the one-two." The "one-two" means that a player essentially steps into their shot as they receive a pass or stop their dribble.
But with "the hop," a player does a brisk bounce as they're receiving the pass or stop dribbling. As they land, they pop right back up to elevate for the shot. (The video to the right explains both of these techniques more in-depth.)
To put it simply, the hop is advantageous because it allows shooters to get their attempts off more quickly and efficiently. For Kelly Olynyk, this has been the case for the entire season, but especially the past month.
Throughout the year, Olynyk has attempted 86 total three-pointers. Out of those attempts, he has used "one-two" 60 times and "the hop" only 26 times. Incredibly, Kelly is shooting 38.5 percent with the hop to only 30 percent with the one-two.
The sample size for the hop is quite small, but it does imply that he uses it when he has rhythm. Since the All-Star break, 10 of his 27 three-point attempts have used the hop, and he's shooting 50 percent with it.
Considering his increased usage of this particular technique, it wouldn't have been surprising if the coaches stressed the importance of using it, but Olynyk says that isn't the case. In fact, he hadn't even realized that he had been using it so frequently when he saw the statistics.
"It hasn't been conscious," said Olynyk. "[Using the hop] gets you in rhythm and it gets your feet set. The one-two can sometimes be harder to replicate and it's a little slower."
Looking at the film, it's clear that Kelly Olynyk has found more success as of late because of his ability to get shots off rapidly. The hop allows shooters to be speedy with their movements, which is why some of the greatest scorers of all-time utilize it.
Keep an eye on how quickly Olynyk is getting off these shot attempts using the hop. When it comes to adjusting to the speed of the NBA, it becomes increasingly important to get shots off instantaneously before defenders can get there to bother the look.
Olynyk is naturally a one-two jump shooter, but as he says, it's hard to replicate the footwork. Perhaps, some of his early-season inconsistencies were due to his technique, just as much as his cautious mindset. But with the hop, Olynyk has been steady throughout the season because he's in a natural flow while using it.
At this point in the year, the game has slowed down for him. He's able to play the game without thinking about every little action he takes. "You just kind of get more accustomed to the speed and the athleticism [of the NBA]," Olynyk told CSNNE.com. "I think that's something that's really changed for me and really allowed me to do more things out there."
Coach Stevens has talked also talked at length about his development. He said, "Kelly is progressing about as well as we could have hoped. He's playing great right now."
If Olynyk continues to develop at this rate, Brad Stevens could very well insert him into the starting lineup next season. If that happens, expect an overflow of confident play from Kelly Olynyk.