Tim MacLean (@TimMacLean_)
Prior to the 2013 NBA Draft many people wondered whether or not Kelly Olynyk has what it takes to be an effective big man at the NBA level. Standing seven feet tall and weighing in at 238 pounds, Olynyk doesn’t possess the Herculean mass that you see in the majority of today’s post players. As a result, both scouts and GM’s around the league became unsure of the Gonzaga forward’s long-term outlook and that’s completely understandable. However, Danny Ainge and the Celtics saw something in Olynyk that other front offices didn’t, making it easy to snatch up “Sunshine” – as Jeff Green dubbed him – with the 13th overall pick.
Olynyk began proving doubters wrong during the Orlando Summer League earlier this summer. He ranked fourth in the league in points per game (18.0) all while shooting at an extremely impressive 58% clip. What’s more, Olynyk put in solid work on the boards each time out, hauling in 7.8 per contest. Of course, it would be foolish to read too much into Summer League stats but, still, Olynyk’s performance throughout the five day tournament was more than enough to keep us excited for his regular season debut.
At this point in the offseason we know exactly what the Celtics have in Kelly Olynyk. He’s going to score in myriad ways, whether it’s mid-range jumpers, threes, or crafty low-post moves, he’ll have little trouble putting up points in the NBA. The only downfall is that he’ll most likely be a liability on the defensive end of the floor during his inaugural season due to his lack of girth. Expect to see opposing teams attack Olynyk on the low-block by playing bully ball. If the big Canadian is being continuously dominated in the paint game in and game out then his overall confidence may take a huge hit.
But as is the case with all rookies, the 2013-14 campaign will surely be a massive learning experience for the Celtics draftee. And while it will certainly take some time before Olynyk becomes a solid NBA defender, I expect to see him contribute in a big way offensively as Boston’s third, fourth, or fifth scoring option.
Defensive sieve or not, Kelly Olynyk will be a mainstay in the Rookie of the Year conversation throughout the season.
25.0 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 53% FG, 36% 3-FG