Jazz

Olynyk Hitting Late-Prime Surge

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Not many people anticipated talking much about the Utah Jazz this season— unless it was about tanking or chances at the No. 1 pick.

Well, pundits are now talking about the Jazz for other reasons. Utah has started the season with an unexpected 14-12 record, led by Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson.

However, another player is providing string music for the Jazz. That player is Kelly Olynyk.

How many people knew Olynyk was on the Jazz before this season? He has — like he always has — provided steady and reliable offense for the Jazz and is a big reason they are in playoff position at the quarter-poll of the season.

Olynyk knocking down everything

Olynyk has been an underrated player his entire career. The big man is a floor spacer offensively and a career 36.9% three-point shooter.

This year, though, Olynyk, has been extremely efficient, averaging 13 points on 56.8% overall shooting and 46.6% from deep. His effective FG% is 65.8%, jumping over 12%, which is the biggest increase of any player in the NBA as of November 10th.

Despite it being a Jazz loss, Olynyk did what he has been doing all year last week Tuesday— taking good shots and making them more often than not. The Gonzaga product made 6-of-7 shot attempts, including all three of his attempts from three-point range.

Olynyk is also an underrated passer for a big man, averaging over three assists per game this season. His offensive versatility is a massive benefit to Will Hardy and the Jazz offense.

Olynyk Brings Intangible Value

Olynyk brings immense value to the Utah offense just by being on the floor. Driving lanes are opened up for Utah’s top players Clarkson and the budding superstar Markkanen.

Defenders can’t leave Olynyk, who is draining 3s at the aforementioned ridiculous clip. Many players are having career years in Utah and one of the reasons is the Jazz’s ability to space you defensively, including opposing bigs having to stay out on Olynyk.

Olynyk rising to elite role player

When you look at the counting stats — 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game — Olynyk won’t wow anyone.

However, his effect on the Utah offense goes beyond the numbers. The spacing he provides is paramount to Utah’s success. If defenses leave Olynyk open, he has made them pay the price all year.

Before the season, looking at Utah you thought Clarkson and Markkanen might score some points, but the Jazz would lose a lot of games. As the season has gone on though, the Jazz are getting efficient and standout years from a multitude of role players, including Olynyk.

If the Jazz continues to get production as it has from Olynyk and others, Utah may not just be a nice early story, but a force throughout the season and a potential playoff team.

About Mitchell Skurzewski

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