One of my favorite annual preseason preview articles is when SI.com publishes the thoughts from an anonymous scout. This year was a bit of a disappointment in that there wasn't a lot of stuff that wasn't obvious to just about anyone watching. One item, however, did stick out that I wanted to address.
The scout really doesn't think Kelly Olynyk has improved.
I would argue that on defense he's gotten a lot better than he was as a rookie, but I guess that's not saying much since he was a turnstile then and is usually positionally competent now. But still, that's progress.
On offense, you can see where the scout is coming from. Olynyk has always had a feel for the game and has always been able to see the court and make smart plays. But he hesitates when it comes to looking for his own shot and sometimes that hesitation costs the team.
I'm of the opinion that Kelly needs to be fined for every wide-open pump fake he makes. I get it when the opponent is closing out and flying right in his face. Then a pump fake is fine (though I kind of wish he'd put it on the floor or at least side-step for a 3). But sometimes he catches it at the elbow, turns, and reflexively pump fakes despite his defender being 2 steps off of him. The fake eliminates that separation and ruins any timing advantage he would have if he simply acted aggressively.
I think we've been over this in the past, but the fact that he was a former point guard that had a growth spurt is a blessing and a curse. It is great that he can see the court, but he needs to look for his own shot too. Put another way, how can he stretch the floor when the other team isn't overly afraid that he'll actually take the shot?
"I’ve been taught to play basketball the right way, so if stuff comes, I take it. If it doesn’t, you just keep the ball moving," he said. "But sometimes you’ve got to try to force it a little bit, I guess, and that’s a little bit of a tough line, especially being a point guard growing up and seeing the game like that. But it’s definitely something I’ve got to work on. "I think it’s more just letting the game come to you and playing basketball the right way. I mean, if the extra pass is there, I want to make it. I would definitely consider myself an unselfish player, but I guess sometimes you’ve got to be a little more selfish. Like I said, that’s tough. But then I have to realize that that’s what’s going to help the team — help the team be successful."
He says the right things and I think he's a smart player that's open to being coached. None of that really worries me. But you really can't teach someone to be aggressive like you would fix a flaw in someone's shooting motion. You can encourage aggressive play, coax it out of them with coaching, and maybe even develop it over time and practice. But if it doesn't come naturally, then it is an uphill climb.
Kelly Olynyk is a talented player and he could be a real solid piece of this puzzle in part because of all the non-shooting things he does so well on offense. But he needs to be a threat on offense in order for the offense to work at an optimal level. Can he find that aggressive nature within him in order to take the next step in his career progression? We'll find out this year.