With the 28th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected forward Ryan Kelly out of Duke. The prevailing thought was that Kelly could eventually develop into a prototypical stretch four and would be a perfect fit in then-coach Mike D’Antoni‘s offense.
During Kelly’s rookie season, it appeared that the Lakers had made a wise gamble as he showed flashes of solid play, including a 26-point outing against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kelly wasn’t starter material, but he could come in and provide some spacing with his 34 percent three-point shooting, and as the season went on he even developed a surprising ability to block shots from the weakside (1.2 blocks per 36 minutes).
Kelly signed a two-year deal with the Lakers after his successful rookie campaign, but the club opted to part ways with D’Antoni, whose offense was a perfect fit for Kelly’s skill set. Ex-Laker Byron Scott was brought in to take the helm, and his offensive system wasn’t nearly as friendly to stretch players.
Not surprisingly, Kelly went through a sophomore slump and his stats almost universally dipped. Kelly saw few minutes at his natural position of power forward, and at one point Scott even used him as a backup small forward, asking the 6’11” big man to chase perimeter players around the court, which went about as well as expected.
Unfortunately, in this third season in Los Angeles and the final year of his contract, Kelly went into a major shooting slump, hitting a horrendous 14 percent of his threes. He couldn’t find consistent minutes to dig himself out, and it was clear that the team would not re-sign him this summer.
Now, Kelly is hoping to find new life with the Atlanta Hawks, who have signed him to a non-guaranteed deal, according to Chris Vivlamore of AJC.com:
— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) September 17, 2016
Kelly will have his work cut out for him in with the Hawks, who already have the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts on their roster and still need to make room for Mike Muscala. Still, the Hawks system is well-suited for Kelly, and it’s possible that a strong showing will earn him another shot in the NBA, even if it isn’t in Atlanta.
Kelly joins Robert Sacre as Lakers who were on last season’s roster but are now looking to catch on with a new club. While he isn’t wearing purple and gold anymore, Lakers Nation wishes Ryan Kelly, a.k.a “The White Raven” all the best as he continues to pursue his NBA dream.