Ryan Kelly Latest LA Lakers Role Player to Have Moment in the Sun

You can't teach relevance—unless you're Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni.

Efforts to remain competitive while looking ahead to the future led Los Angeles to assemble a roster of offbeat players in hopes D'Antoni, like he tends to do, could make something out of the unknown. And he has. 


The latest unadorned talent turned role player turned prominent contributor and superjock is rookie Ryan Kelly, who, like so many others before him, is finding his niche in an open-floor plan and a rotation so desultory, only D'Antoni could be behind it.


From Irrelevant to Dominant

Drafted in the second round this past summer, Kelly didn't even qualify for "seldom used" in the early part of this season when he wasn't recovering from a foot injury. Through the first 27 games, he made just five appearances, never seeing more than seven minutes of action.

Over the last 14 games, specifically since Shawne Williams' departure, D'Antoni has gone to the rookie more and more. Kelly has logged at least 12 minutes of action in 13 straight games, including 31 or more in his last three.

In those last three games, Kelly is averaging 15.3 points and 5.3 rebounds on 57.8 percent shooting overall and a 40 percent clip from three-point range. His recent performances have been so impressive, D'Antoni decided to start him ahead of the Lakers' road game against the Toronto Raptors.

"He's going to give us toughness and smarts and move the ball and hopefully he'll hit open shots," D'Antoni said, per ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin. "I just think we're a better team when we can spread the floor."

Kelly did not disappoint, going for 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor, showing an uncanny ability to reach the free-throw line, where he was 6-of-6. 

That versatile offensive punch is something the Lake...

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