Ryan Kelly of the Los Angeles Lakers scored a career-high 20 points in Friday night’s victory over the Boston Celtics. For the first time this season, we got to see him featured at the offensive end of the court thanks to all-around good ball movement.
Kelly showed a strong knack at pump-faking at the three-point line and stepping into a mid-range shot with poise. He has a slow release, but it works because he gets players flying at him since he is scouted as a shooter. This was a delightful adjustment the former Duke star made as he had been struggling to get off that three-pointer due to the slow release. And when he did get it off in the past, it was often rushed and the shot was very flat.
I’m not too surprised about anything that goes on in an NBA game, but Kelly’s baseline drive and dunk in the second quarter made me flinch. That was some surprising athleticism considering I hadn’t seen any of that from him this season.
This is a player that will need to get stronger around the legs. He is going to have a very hard time on the defensive end, particularly against bigs in the post if he doesn’t.
The good thing for Lakers fans is Kelly shows no signs of being a deer in headlights. He helped seal the game over Boston by calmly sinking two free-throws giving the Lakers a three-point victory. The play before, he was able to grab a critical rebound with Los Angeles only up one.
After being criticized in the previous game against the Phoenix Suns for not coming to Nick Young‘s defense, the rookie stepped up in this one. We know Mike D’Antoni is obsessed with “stretch fours,” so I would not be surprised if Kelly is starting very soon. That shot fake is going to be a weapon he can use for the future.