The NBA Draft is just 16 short days away! While the Celtics have held their fair share of workouts, not very many of them featured players who may be taken with the 16th pick, something that's sure to change as the draft process progresses.
In previous installments of our 'Future is Now' series, we've looked at defensive-minded big men Jeff Withey of Kansas and Gorgui Dieng of Louisville as well as UCLA one-and-done swingman Shabazz Muhammad. Today's installment of the series features Gonzaga big man Kelly Olynyk. DraftExpress and ProBasketballDraft.com each have the Celtics selecting Olynyk with the 16th selection.
Full Name: Kelly Olynyk
Hometown: Kamloops, British Columbia
College: Gonzaga (3 Years)
Date of Birth: April 19, 1991 (22 Years Old)
Current ESPN Mock Draft Position: 21st to the Utah Jazz
Height: 7'0" (With Shoes), Weight: 234 Pounds, Wingspan: 6'9.75"
College Career: Olynyk was one of the most pleasant surprises in the 2012-13 NCAA season. After not contributing very much during his first two seasons at Gonzaga, and with Olynyk slated to be buried on the bench behind eventual draftee Robert Sacre, he redshirted during Gonzaga's 2011-12 season.
He came back this season better than ever and was one of the most productive players in the country. His scoring average jumped by 12 points to 17.8 PPG after the redshirt while averaging 13 more minutes per game. He was named the WCC Player of the Year and made the AP All-American First Team this past season. He was easily the most valuable player on a Gonzaga team that earned its first ever NCAA Tournament 1 Seed. He is an efficient, finesse 7-footer that comes with a lot more natural skill and coordination than some of his counterparts in the draft.
Depending on Gonzaga's opponent, he was asked to perform different roles game in and game out. For example, he has an effective face up game and is comfortable handling the ball and creating a bit for his team on the perimeter. He also has good, quick, crafty post moves that can work against certain defenders on the blocks.
Strengths: Olynyk has a true finesse game that reminds many of Luis Scola (the hair similarities may be part of that as well). He is extremely mobile for a big man and has coordination that some of the "project" 7 foot prospects seem to lack.
He has a good jump shot and range out to the college three point line. Due to his jumper and his mobility, he is a real threat on offense as the screener in a high pick and roll or pick and pop setting. His presence and jumper will draw an opposing big away from the hoop to guard him.
He can also put the ball on the floor pretty well; he can get to the rim with quick, simple moves and a commitment to staying low on the dribble which is typically enough to a beat a big man defending on the perimeter.
His ball handling isn't always the prettiest, but it is usually effective. He has tremendous touch around the hoop with his soft hands. Despite not being the bulkiest of post players, he can be effective on the blocks with quick moves like baby hook shots or up and under moves rather than power moves like dropsteps.
He's a high IQ player who will consistently move around on offense and can be effective off of cuts to the hoop or to spot up. On defense, he has some athletic limitations but he's very good at positioning himself so that they aren't exploited; this gives hope that he could be an effective team defender. Olynyk has also improved himself dramatically with each passing season; this is something that should be promising to NBA teams.
Weaknesses: First and foremost, Olynyk isn't the explosive athlete that guys like Steven Adams or Mason Plumlee are, which limits some of his potential upside in the NBA. Because he's not as explosive, he isn't the best rebounder or rim protector around for his size; his relatively small wingspan (6'9.75") for his size also hurts him there.
His 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game aren't great for a 7 footer who played a mainly mid-major schedule. On defense, while he's mobile, his lateral quickness isn't the best. Even though he could mask it at times at the college level, it remains to be seen what quicker, smarter players could do to him.
He struggles when pulled away from the basket if he's switched onto a smaller player; this means he's not a great pick and roll defender by any stretch of the imagination. He also faces the typical drawbacks that come with finesse big men. He isn't particularly strong or bulky so if placed in the post against a more traditional big man, while he fights hard, he can be pushed around.
He also turned the ball over more than many other big men in the draft but a lot of this is due to a much higher usage rate on the perimeter. His true weakness in terms of draft stock is that his upside and potential ceiling isn't as high as a lot of the other big men in the draft. He has a lower floor and will likely make a more immediate impact than some of these centers though.
Video Breakdown (Courtesy DraftExpress):
A few things are really evident on the tape. One of the first promising things that stands out is how well Olynyk is able to establish deep post position using his relative quickness and mobility. This is important given his physical makeup because in order for him to be a post threat, he needs to start close to the hoop because he's not going to bully his way closer to the hoop against most NBA big men. His ability to get to the hoop if he catches the ball on the perimeter is also something that stands out. He doesn't have the prettiest looking moves or ways to get to the hoop but he does know how to get low, attack with a first step and then capitalize on it. Another positive from the film is his ability to adjust in midair which is extremely impressive. He doesn't have complete strength to simply power through contact, but he is quite good at either avoiding it and getting an open look or absorbing it and scoring from a new angle.
Some of the not so promising aspects of the film are shown with his inability to defend the ball handler on a pick and roll switch, which will certainly be a factor in the NBA. He does get beaten for rebounds quite a bit as well due to his lack of strength and leaping ability for the position.
How he Fits the Celtics: Olynyk's fit with the Celtics may ultimately be determined by whether or not they decide to begin the rebuilding process this current offseason. If Danny Ainge decides to bring Pierce back (and KG and Doc follow) for another supposed playoff run, Olynyk would be a nice piece who could contribute a decent amount immediately. His ability to stretch the floor with his shooting could certainly help open up the lane for guys like Rondo, AB, and Jeff Green to slash or cut to the hoop. He has his limitations but does have a high floor and will contribute without needing much of a learning curve in the league. Although for a team that has had its fair share of rebounding issues, he may not solve that issue as well as a guy like Gorgui Dieng, who will also likely be around with the 16th pick.
That said, if the Celtics go the rebuilding route immediately, it may make more sense to pass on Olynyk for a guy with more upside. Olynyk would be best as a guy who could immediately help a contending team and if the Celtics look to take a step back this season, it may make more sense to look at someone like a Rudy Gobert type of player who could pay bigger dividends down the road. Olynyk is a fine player but has little in the way of superstar potential. The identity that the Celtics decide to choose (or that is chosen for them) in the coming weeks will dictate their draft strategy.
Height, Weight, Wingspan and Video courtesy of DraftExpress
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