The Q&A series with Hawks players from their season-ending exit interviews resumes.
Today: Ryan Kelly, who has a non-guaranteed contract for next season.
Q. What are your thoughts about the season and how it ended?
A. To be on a team that was fighting for a different (playoff) spot, that four, five six (seed) and even a chance that you could slip out of it. We really had to fight through every game at the end of the season. To be able to witness a playoff run in person, though it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, just to be a part of it and see how hard it is and how ready to have to be was hugely valuable for me.
Q. Player development is big here, what they are trying to work on?
A. In some ways, they want me to be a little more selfish as a shooter. I think, for me, I’ve always been someone who likes to get people involved, even as a big guy. So to really be that knock-down shooter and any time I have that inch of space to be able to let it go. That’s something I’ve been working on a lot this year. Obviously, I haven’t been able to show it that much in games but, man, if you watch those scrimmages out there. Those are the things you have to do.
Q. Where are you in your game?
A. I’ve had an opportunity to play a lot. I’ve had a chance to sit and watch. I feel like I’ve grown in watching the game and watching a style of play that I really think I fit in well with. And there is a reason that I’m still here. Even though fans and a lot of people didn’t get to see me play that much, hopefully, I can be part of the future here. I think I wouldn’t have been brought back twice if they didn’t believe in me.
Q. Do you get inspiration from a guy like Tim Hardaway Jr and how far he came this year?
A. He’s certainly a vote of confidence. The staff here and player development is a huge priority. That is one of the reasons I want to be here for a lot of the summer. I think they can help take my game to the next level. For them, hopefully, it can help the team and for me, selfishly, it can help my career.
Q. How difficult was the year? As you said, they brought you back twice. You played in the D-League.
A. It certainly was a struggle. It certainly took a toll. But I walked in here having no guarantees that I was going to be on a roster. In fact, at the end of training camp being pretty sure I wasn’t going to be on a roster. They made some moves to find me a spot. Obviously, I’m hugely appreciative but I hope and I believe it showed what I was capable of that they believed in me. When the time came a little before the deadline when they had to guarantee my contract and the Kyle Korver trade, they needed that extra spot. One of the great things was, they were unbelievably upfront with me. They said they wanted to bring me back and they didn’t know when it was going to be. You want to be a part of an organization that will look a guy in the eye and tell the truth. You don’t always get that in professional sports. I was very thankful for that. I’m going to keep working. I’m very appreciative that I finished the year here and I’m looking forward to the future.