Kelly Olynyk says he'll be aggressive this year - should we believe him?

We know the offseason is over when the spin machine kicks into full gear.

He's lost ten pounds. Put on fifteen pounds of muscle. Has been living in the weight room. First in, last out. Best shape of his life. Game has really started to slow down for them. Has a great work ethic. The narrative remains the same each October - only the players it refers to change.

Unless, of course, they don’t.

We’re all too familiar with this kind of narrative covering up things a player can't control, or an offseason spent more in the club or on the beach than in the gym or on the court. Sometimes, they are deployed in the hopes of helping a young player get out of their own head, or lighting a fire underneath a player in the hopes they aspire to reflect the praise heaped on them unjustly. In light of this, you are forgiven if you had a skeptical reaction to the recent news that Kelly Olynyk plans to be more aggressive from deep this year. However, we should take Kelly at his word, because there’s evidence to back it up.

Olynyk was on his way to a career year when he hurt his shoulder last February, shooting 41.3% from three on 3.1 attempts per game on average before the injury. While his attempts only dipped slightly to 2.9 per game, his accuracy dipped noticeably to 37.2% from behind the arc. Interestingly, before-injury Kelly shot a scorching 47.1% at home (and 35.4% on the road) from three, while after the injury, it flipped, with Olynyk logging 36.8% for home games and 37.5% for away games. Also, Kelly shot more threes in wins than losses (3.1 to 3.0) before he got hurt than after (2.8 to 3.0). The shifts in percentages may be small, but they tell a lot in a league where such small movements can make the difference between starting or riding the pine - or the bus to the Maine Red Claws.

Context also matters, though; compared to his first two seasons, where Olynyk shot an average of 35% from deep on just 2.15 attempts, even last year's injured-Kelly was more aggressive and accurate. A lot of this can be attributed to a change in mindset for Olynyk, who has been both helped and hindered in his development as a player because of his early experience as a (much shorter) point guard.

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports Kelly’s thoughts on this transformation in perspective:

“I never grew up being a super assertive, super impose-your-will player. I was more of a team-first, completely unselfish, behind-the-scenes guy, and I think flipping that switch isn’t easy. But when you’re on this level and on this stage and that’s something that needs to be done and your team is asking you to do, you have to ... You can’t be forcing stuff because when you’re out there forcing things, it’s not going to go the way you want … there’s a fine line between being aggressive and forcing stuff … I was definitely being more assertive last year. There wasn’t the hesitation. That just comes with experience and confidence, going out there and knowing what you can do and how to do it, how to execute it.”

It seems people are buying what Olynyk’s selling, too - ESPN’s Real Plus/Minus (subscription required) ranks Kelly a startling 33rd in the league, suggesting the preseason narrative swirling around Boston's recovering big man may be worth believing. We’ll see soon enough - for now, let’s just be thankful we’re not hearing he put on fifteen pounds of muscle, or that he’s in the best shape of his life, perhaps the league’s leading indicators of a mediocre season to come. The absence of such spin and the rumblings we are hearing about Olynyk might just make Danny Ainge regret he hasn't already extended him.

What do YOU expect from Kelly this year? Let us know in the comment section below.

Data from
Olynyk/trophy photo courtesy of Gerry Kahrmann via
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