Eye-Opening Numbers Show Miami Heat Play Significantly Better With Kelly Olynyk on Court

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When the Miami Heat signed big man Kelly Olynyk in 2017, the team was hoping he would become a key part of its lineup.

Looking at the team’s statistical numbers from the 2018-19 season, it appears clear that the Heat are a much better team when he’s on the court.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald offered a host of different numbers that point out the value of having Olynyk in a Heat uniform. One of those numbers offered by Jackson directly correlates with the minutes he plays in a game:

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“When Olynyk plays fewer than 10 minutes, he’s shooting 29 percent this season. When he plays between 10 and 19 minutes, he’s shooting 40 percent. But he’s shooting 50 percent when he plays between 20 and 29 and 49 percent between 30 and 39. And when he plays 40 minutes or more, as he did in Wednesday’s win in Charlotte, he’s shooting 61.3 percent.”

Jackson’s other numbers also offer a strong endorsement:

“The Heat simply plays better when Olynyk is on the floor. Last season, the Heat outscored teams by 231 points when Olynyk was on the court, by far the best on the team. (Wayne Ellington was second at plus-129).

“This season, Miami has outscored teams by 70 points when Olynyk is on the court, second-best on the team behind Justise Winslow, who’s a plus-97.

“To put all of this in perspective, consider this: Since Olynyk joined the Heat, Miami has outscored teams by 301 points when he’s in the game but has been outscored by 291 when he’s not on the court.”

Olynyk was inserted into the starting lineup 13 games ago and has thrived in that role. For one thing, his shooting percentages have been better when he starts, with 52 percent of his field goals and 42 percent of his 3-pointers connecting. That’s in contrast to his reserve percentages of 46 and 35 percent, respectively.

His past six games have been especially notable, averaging 20.5 points per game and knocking down 62 percent (18-of-29) of his 3-point attempts.

The numbers put up on offense by Olynyk are no less impressive on the defensive side of the ball. In that capacity, he ranks in the top 10 among NBA power forwards when it comes to the 44.3 percent shooting percentage that opposing players have when he’s guarding them. For good measure, he also leads the Heat with 10 charges drawn.

One player who’s noticed how valuable Olynyk can be is Dwyane Wade, who offered his opinion on his teammate’s importance:

“We know how good he is. Obviously, the Miami Heat does. They went out and signed him. He’s a big part of what we want to do here. When he’s shooting the ball that way, [it’s big]. Defensively, he’s been doing a lot better with help defense. He’s definitely making that first unit move and go.”

Olynyk offered his own explanation about the value he can bring:

“The way I’ve played my whole life is I don’t force stuff or press the issue. I played more point guard [growing up], where you let the game come to you, make the right plays. The ball will find you. When you play less minutes, sometimes that doesn’t happen.”

With the Heat struggling to garner a playoff spot, Olynyk’s play down the stretch could play an important part in determining whether they reach the postseason and how long they last. The next step on that challenging road will come on Friday night, when Miami hosts Cleveland.
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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for HeatNation.com, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.