For now, the jury is still out on Miami Heat big man Kelly Olynyk

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 13: Kelly Olynyk
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 13: Kelly Olynyk /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Miami Heat signed big man Kelly Olynyk this past summer, and it seems fans still aren’t sure what to make of him.

After free agent Gordon Hayward passed over the Miami Heat for the Boston Celtics last summer, president Pat Riley had to adjust his offseason plans. Ironically, looking no further than the TD Garden and signing big man Kelly Olynyk.

A three-year man out of Gonzaga University, he averaged 8.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists a game, over his college career. However, as a junior, he averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocks per matchup. He was then drafted No. 13 overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 2013, and traded immediately to the Celtics.

Olynyk had a decent rookie year, averaging 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds a contest, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie second team. He also participated in the Rising Stars Challenge during the 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend.

The 26-year-old spent four years in Boston, having averaged 9.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists a game. During the 2016-17 season, he averaged 9.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per matchup.

And yet, the majority of Heat Nation were stunned by Riley’s acquisition.

After all, Olynyk was best known for dislocating Kevin Love’s shoulder, a dirty play at best. And although reportedly the two have put the incident behind them, it’s hard to forget such a thing. That type of behavior certainly wouldn’t be tolerated within such a high-class organization either, many trying to figure out how he could possibly fit into the Heat Culture.

But with time, opinions on the Toronto-native have slowly started to shift. In part, thanks to his willingness to buy into the program. He already looks to be in better shape, a la James Johnson and Dion Waiters, and has accepted a new role with open arms.

"“We did a lot of stuff in Boston… Here it’s a lot more open and guys just attacking, penetrate and kick, swing, swing and penetrate again. Just kind of free flowing – it’s a little bit different from Boston. It’s fun and something I enjoy.”"

He also has no problem sharing the floor with another 7-footer, in Hassan Whiteside. In fact, he seems to want to learn from the Heat veteran.

"“Hassan is a high-level player, high-level big man in this league,” Olynyk said. “He makes a lot of other people’s lives easier. I’m just out there trying to help him out and make his life easier as well.”"

So what’s the hold up?

Well, not everyone is convinced that Olynyk hasn’t already hit his ceiling. While he was a standout in college, there wasn’t much development over his four years with the Celtics.

However, the same was said about James Johnson when he first arrived in Miami, and look at how well that project ended up turning out. He even has Heat Lifer Udonis Haslem wearing his face on a t-shirt.

If any organization can turn a player’s career around, it’s the Heat.

Fans should also take comfort in the fact that the big man has a great deal of confidence in himself, fitting right in with the rest of the guys on the team.

"“I don’t know if anything is that challenging,” Olynk said about learning the ways of Miami Heat Basketball. “It’s just a different system, a different way they run things around here. You’re going to figure it out. You’re a basketball player, you’ve played your whole life.”"

He certainly has the right attitude, if nothing else.

Next: Miami Heat big man Hassan Whiteside continuing to put the team first

It may take a few more games for Kelly Olynyk to prove he belongs on the Miami Heat, but fans should already feel good about the big man being on their team.