Kelly puts healed foot forward, hopes to go in draft's 2nd round
The big right foot, troublesome for two years, appears to finally have healed.
So tonight, Duke forward Ryan Kelly will gather at his family’s Raleigh home to watch the NBA Draft with plans to continue his basketball career on the pro level.
Limited to 23 games for Duke last season due to a broken right foot that required April surgery, the 7-footer wasn’t able to work out for NBA teams since the foot was healing. That’s partly why Kelly’s not viewed as a lock to be selected in the draft’s two rounds tonight.
But Kelly’s heard enough from his meetings with NBA teams to be confident he’ll get a shot in the NBA.
“It’s certainly going to be a crazy draft,” Kelly said. “I believe I’m going to get drafted in second round. I know I’ll have my opportunity regardless. I’ll have my chance and get a chance to earn a spot on a team. That’s all I can ask for.”
That’s particularly true after what he endured at Duke over his junior and senior seasons.
Kelly first injured his right foot in a March 2012 practice as the Blue Devils prepared for the ACC Tournament. He wasn’t able to play in that postseason and had surgery later that month.
He re-injured the foot in Jan. 8 game with Clemson at Cameron Indoor Stadium. After rehabbing for just shy of two months, he returned for a March 2 game with Miami at Cameron.
It turned out to be a memorable night as he hit seven of nine 3-pointers to score 36 points in a 79-76 Blue Devils win.
Duke went 30-6 and made it to the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Regional final before losing to eventual national champion Louisville. The Blue Devils were 21-2 in games in which Kelly played.
But he really wasn’t 100 percent healed when he returned. He had another operation in April that forced him to miss the NBA Combine.
This week, though, he got good news in a follow-up X-ray of his foot.
“I feel great,” Kelly said. “X-rays showed complete healing. It’s a little bit ahead of schedule. It’s the right time to start getting healthy, I guess.”
At Duke, Kelly showed the ability to hit 3-pointers as well as contribute rebounding on the offensive and defensive ends. He also earned a reputation as an effective, hard-working defender in the paint and on the perimeter.
Kelly made 41 percent of his 3-pointers over his final two seasons at Duke while looking comfortable handling and distributing the ball from his stretch-4 forward slot.
“We ran a very pro-style offense,” Kelly said. “We got players their opportunities to score the basketball. With the NBA having a lot more spacing with a deeper 3-point line, the stretch 4 is becoming a commodity that’s more and more important. I can shoot the ball and I’m somebody who is ball friendly. Those are two skills that will translate immediately.”
After receiving his degree from Duke, Kelly did his rehabilitation from this year’s surgery on campus with the same training staff that helped him return during his senior season.
“The training staff has been great,” Kelly said. “They’ve been great.”
That staff also worked with another of Duke’s senior captains, Seth Curry. The 6-2 guard played last season with a stress fracture in his lower right leg.
Despite that, he only missed one game while hitting 44 percent of his 3-pointers to average 17.5 points per game.
Curry had surgery on the leg after the season ended and, like Kelly, was unable to work out for NBA teams.
But, if he goes undrafted tonight, he’s expected to sign a free agent deal in the NBA.