Adopt A Player - Kelly Olynyk

New Feature Alert: You know how on every basketball team you've ever been on there's the parent's that probably care a little too much? The ones that pay for a shooting coach despite that the kids ceiling is probably division 3 back up? They lose sight of everything on the court, and just watch their own kid.

That's essentially what this feature will be. Each week, myself and another columnist will strictly focus on a single player when he's on the court (and sometimes off). We'll watch what that player does off the ball, how they work on the defensive end, and tell them to tie their shoes even though we know it embaresses them.At the conclusion of the week, we'll report back and shoot a few emails back and forth to discuss what we found.

This past week, Julian Edlow and I decided to adopt: Kelly Olynyk


Matt Richissin:

Julian, I'll let you start. After a week of watching him, and just him: What do you think of Kelly Olynyk?

Julian Edlow:

So here are my thoughts on him from the Grizz through tonight:

Obviously he is going to have some struggles like all rookies. The first night we watched him in Memphis he looked lost. Shot 1-8 and barley contributed to the game. Since then really picked it up to the point he finds himself in the starting lineup.

What I like most about him is what I like most about Anthony Davis, not to compare them. Bigs that grew up playing point guard. His ball handling and passing combine with his awareness and movement without the ball can carry value even when he is not shooting well.

He runs, which is always a great sign for a big.

Always positive on the bench. Comes off as a really good teammate.

Needs to work on becoming a bit more physical… but in the meantime Olynyk and Sullinger complement each other really well, both doing completely different things.

Matt Richissin:

I'm really glad you mentioned Anthony Davis, because I actually thought the same thing -

You can tell there's just something a little different about him, compared to other big men. And like you said, I do think it's the fact that he was a point guard. (editor's note: both Julian and myself want to make it clear that the comparison is that they both used to play point guard and then grew, not comparing their game, nor potential

Not only does he run, but you can see that he WANTS to get the ball into transition.I think that's what I was most impressed by during the week.

When he rebounds the ball he immediately looks to push the pace: Looking to quickly get the ball out of his hands and out to an outlet. What I love is that he doesn't quit there. He kind of starts his run on some outlet passes, and then sprints down the floor.

And he's smart enough to know what running the floor does: He does a great job of sprinting directly at the hoop, and then hitting the block. Which is just fantastic because it leads to two positive options that we saw during the week:

1. Against Memphis it forced the defense to go down on the block, leaving a passing lane wide open for Avery Bradley to hit Courtney Lee for a wide open 3.

2. Against Utah, he caught a smaller player (I was at the game, didn't catch who it was) to front him - which led to an easy lob pass, and an even easier basket

You mentioned Sullinger and Olynyk as a combo - which has been written about in a few places - I'm interested to get your take on how they work together.

Julian Edlow

Yea Sully and Olynyk is no secret. Just think its a good inside out combo of bigs which is rare. They both do different things well which is why it works. Sully all the banging Kelly the smoothness.

Matt Richissin

To me, offensively, they're just such a treat to watch. Two super intelligent players, who really know how to play the game. And because of it, they look so n*sync already (I can only imagine what more familiarity will provide):

Just little things, I took a note during Memphis where Sullinger was at the elbow and Kelly closer to the block. When it was swung to the elbow, Sullinger went to set a pick. Knowing to clear space Olynyk moved out of the post and out to the perimiter. When Sullinger didnt' get the ball on the roll, the ball handler (didn't write down name) passes to Olynyk who has an easier entry pass to Sullinger who had caught a mismatch. Kelly throws it in, Sullinger uses what his momma gave him and it's an easy 2.

Again, these are all little things I've been pointing out - but he's ALWAYS doing it.

Now something that wasn't as great.... What'd you think of his defense though?

Julian Edlow

He sucks at D. He has some idea of what he's doing and is willing to put in the effort it seems. But just needs to be taught. Thats where him playing along side Bass probably becomes key. But slow on rotations, gets lost a lot and just lacks some of the natural athleticism we are used to seeing in a lot of bigs. This is the price we pay for the guard skills i suppose.

Matt Richissin

Ya, without a doubt his biggest issue is that his footspeed is just so ungodly slow. I'm hoping some of that can be improved through training that focuses in on improving lateral quickness, but we're probably a ways off from seeing improvements there.

And through that, you can see why he doesn't block many shots. He's just too slow, on pick and rolls he does a decent job hedging enough to be able to contest a shot, but far enough back that he can recover - but because of the distance he needs between him and the ball handler he can only contest the shot.

Also seemed to have some issues with switches and in help. There was multiple occasions where you could just see after a pick that he had absolutely no idea where he was supposed to be or who he was supposed to be covering.The good thing is, that's something I'm sure will improve greatly over time.

So, final question: His hair. What's his secret?

Julian Edlow:

Has to be great shampoo. But the real secret is how horrible he looked with short hair… i would have grown it to my shoulders too

Matt Richissin:

Haha, fair point. Thanks for adopting Kelly with me, Julian.