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Match up nightmare: Kelly Olynyk comes up big against the Kings

Kelly Olynk took advantage of Sacramento's lackadaisical defense and finished with his best game of the season.

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I used to think that Kelly Olynyk was the future of the franchise. He represents the modern big man, a guy with good size that can shoot from the outside and put the ball on the floor, the prototypical stretch-4 perfect for Brad Stevens pace-and-space system.

We've seen flashes of brilliance from the third year man, but games like Thursday night's 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists have been few and far between.  He's now part of a trio of bigs (with Jonas Jerebko and David Lee) off the bench for Stevens and only averaging 17.5 minutes per game after increasing his playing time from 20 to 22.3 between his rookie and sophomore campaigns.  After a successful summer as one of Team Canada's go-to players, expectations were that Olynyk would make the jump this season after two promising years of steady improvement.

It hasn't happened and it doesn't look like it could anytime soon.  Jared Sullinger has cemented himself in the starting lineup and owner Wyc Grousbeck even called him arguably Boston's best player.  Amir Johnson has anchored Boston's front court defense and he'll play consistent minutes all season.  Even on the bench, Olynyk is the least consistent of the bigs.  Jerebko has been awful on offense, but his defensive versatility and hustle has made him a Stevens' favorite. Lee keeps chugging along by working the high and low post and getting easy shots for himself.

Olynyk, on the other hand, is on the outside looking in.  Literally.  On offense, he's usually patrolling the perimeter 20+ feet from the rim.  Of his 124 FGA's, 55 have been 3's where he's shooting a respectable 36.4%.  That amounts to 44.4% of his shots are from behind the arc; that's up from 33.1% in 2014-2015.

Part of that is personnel and part of it is schemes, but you get a sense sometimes it's mental with Olynyk.  Here's a fun fact: in the three games where Kelly has hit his first shot, he's averaging 17 points.  When he's missed, he's only averaging 5.7 points in fifteen games.  It's a small sample size, but I really think that when Kelly sees the ball go through the hoop early, his confidence carries him throughout the rest of the game.  And in those three games (against the Kings, Bucks, and Wizards), the Celtics have won going away by an average of 17.7 points.

Maybe this breakthrough against the Kings will get him going.  Let's not forget the December that Olynyk put together last season.  After getting supplanted by Tyler Zeller in the starting lineup, he flourished as a bench big and put together his best month as a pro, averaging 13.5-5.6-2.4 on 53.8% shooting.

Olynyk won Thursday night's Tommy Award, but I wouldn't expect too many in the future and he may not be your best bet in FanDuel.  However, if you're scouting opposing teams that have bigger and slower front courts, Olynyk could be a good play.  He'll thrive when opposing teams throw out more traditional lineups at the Celtics.  Against the Kings, he faced a series of paint plodding bigs: DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Kosta Koufos.  They allowed Kelly to free himself up on the perimeter and beat them down the court in transition.  Next week, the Celtics play New Orleans, Chicago, Golden State, and Charlotte.  Olynyk could be a sneaky play against everybody besides the Warriors.

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