Heat’s Wayne Ellington becomes Kelly Olynyk’s 3-point whisperer
Miami Heat center Kelly Olynyk was snatched as a free agent due to his ability to space out the floor, but his propensity to shoot it but not look for it had been a thorn in Erik Spoelstra’s side. Teammate Wayne Ellington, who set the franchise record for 3s in a season in 2017-18, worked his magic with Olynyk, explaining how he went from a capable marksman to a lethal one.
The NBA’s progressive pace-and-space game has resulted in most teams adapting a different philosophy on offense, one high in 3-point attempts that has fossilized the post-up game and mid-range jumpers.
The mandate in the Heat’s locker room has become clear for Olynyk: look for the 3, shoot the 3, don’t pass up the shot.
“I was asking Wayne the other day, ‘How do you just go out and shoot only threes?’ ” Olynyk said of the conversation between Miami Heat teammates, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “It’s not easy to do. He was giving me some advice and some insight.”
Ellington’s advice was rather simple, embracing the opportunity and ditching the usual mindset of a role player to take good shots in hopes to stay in the game.
“I told him I got used to it,” Ellington said with a smile. “Initially, it was one of those things where sometimes you get a little hesitant of if this is a good shot or a bad shot. But at some point you’ve got to look at it as a great thing.”
Ellington transformed the mandate for Olynyk to a boost of confidence, one he used himself as a motivator during the prior season.
“Your head coach is telling you to let it fly,” Ellington said. “That means not only does he trust your judgement of a good shot and a bad shot, he really has confidence and believes in your ability from out there.”
Olynyk shot a sharp 4-of-6 in Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, with the bulk of his 11 points coming from a 3-of-4 performance from beyond the arc. The Heat outscored the Raptors by 16 when he was on the court.
“He’s a big-time threat,” Spoelstra said after the loss in Toronto. “He’s every bit of the threat that Wayne is, but at 7 feet. We want him to play like this, and even if he misses his threes.”
Olynyk is off to a slow start through a reduced role this year, but if he’s able to match the 37.9 percent clip from last season, Spoelstra will be a happy man, given his efficiency and dynamic as a rangy big man in the rotation.