BY THE NUMBERS:
3 – Laker rookies in the last 20 years to score at least 17 points in consecutive games, Kelly joining Kobe Bryant and Eddie Jones. Kelly posted 20 and 17 points, respectively, at Boston and at Toronto on Jan. 17 and 19.
5 – Games started with the D-Fenders early in the season as Kelly tried to work his way back into game shape from a foot injury suffered during his senior year at Duke. He averaged 25.2 points, 7.6 boards, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals in those starts.
33.8 – Percentage of three-point field goals made for Kelly, which ranked fifth among all rookies. In a small sample size, he shot 42.9 percent from the right corner.
Having broken his foot during his senior season at Duke, Kelly’s draft stock took a resulting hit, which the Lakers were more than happy to capitalize upon when selecting him with the 48th overall pick of the 2013 Draft. Having missed all of summer league and playing limited minutes in three preseason contests while continuing to recover from the injury, Kelly was assigned to the D-Fenders to get some playing time not yet available to him on the senior squad. Kelly was terrific in five starts for the Lakers’ D-League affiliate in late November and early December, and found himself in the Lakers’ rotation shortly thereafter. He played 17 minutes against Miami on Christmas Day, and went on to earn double-digit minutes in all but one game for the rest of the season. His first start came a game after a terrific individual performance at Boston on the team’s annual Grammy trip, and he wound up starting 25 games on the season. Though he didn’t shoot the ball as well as he appears capable from three (33.8 percent), Kelly had to be respected as a floor spacer, and settled in playing the stretch four position in coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Kelly finished the year ninth among all first-year players in minutes (22.8), seventh in points (8.0), 11th in rebounds (3.7), seventh in field-goal percentage (42.3), fifth in three-point field goal percentage (33.8) and third in free-throw percentage (81.5). Though there were periods of inconsistent play, the 6-foot-11 forward flashed potential with his passing ability (career high eight dimes vs. Oklahoma City on March 9), defense (0.8 blocks) and generally impressive court sense, drawing frequent praise from D’Antoni. As a restricted free agent this offseason, Kelly hopes to remain in L.A., and believes he proved his worth in a rookie campaign well more than worthy of the No. 48 pick in the draft.
IN HIS WORDS:
“For my growth, I showed I can do a lot of things. The big thing is doing it consistently. Most rookies have their ups and downs and I did too. There were times I shot the ball better than others, there were times I was moving better than others. If I can grow in those ways and then be consistent with it, I feel I can be a pretty darn good player in this league and a starter.”
by Trevor Wong