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Summer League Player Evaluation: Kelly Olynyk

When one talks about a pure scorer, we tend to think of well-known superstars like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, players that have proven their ability to get the ball in the basket to be second-nature to them, scoring in many different manners.

Younger, less experienced players with the ability to score in the same fashion are often overlooked simply because we want proof that they can truly take their scoring games to the next level against the elite.

So far, so good for the Boston Celtics’ new rookie, Kelly Olynyk.

Four games into Summer League, the 7’0, 234 lbs center from Gonzaga is averaging 19.5 points on a super-efficient 57.4 percent shooting for a rookie, to go along with eight rebounds and 2.2 steals. 

In his last game against the Houston Rockets, he delivered the first double-double of Summer League, posting 19 points and 10 rebounds. Four great showings by the B.C native has earned him the number one rank atop the first NBA.com Rookie Ladder of the upcoming season.

Three games in, Olynyk shot 3-for-7 from long-range, but following his showing against Houston  where he went 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, he is now shooting 25 percent from the three-point line.

Let’s take a closer look at his showing against the Rockets.

There were two blemishes on his final stat-line: his poor three-point shooting and his five turnovers.

As he has shown in college and in the first three games, he is excellent at running the floor and scoring in transition, going 2-for-2 on shots taken on fastbreak opportunities. He is also a good finisher at the rim, able to finish with both hands quite expertly. Dating back to Gonzaga, he is a very smart offensive player who loves to create contact to get to the free-throw line, where he shot 77.6 percent last season for the Bulldogs. Unfortunately, he was only 3-for-6 for the game, contributing to his off-shooting night.

As a refined offensive threat, Olynyk has a wide variety of shots in his arsenal, able to make step-back jumpers, turnaround jumpers and scoop shots just to name a few. He was 1-for-1 from mid-range for the game, his one make coming on a step-back jumper from 17 feet. It is also to his advantage to be able to make shots in traffic or off the dribble. 

Olynyk is a very legitimate post threat, having demonstrated polished skills from the block the first three games, whether he’s scoring in the various ways he knows how or threading the needle on passes to shooters on the perimeter, he can do it all from the post. He has also shown the ability to catch the ball far out and work his way under the rim with good footwork and a variety of fakes and spins. 

In the game in question, he finished 8-for-14 from the field. This can be broken down into three categories: 7-for-8 shooting in the paint, 1-for-1 from mid-range and 0-for-5 from long-range. Many of his points in the paint came off of tip-shots. Olynyk crashed the glass very effectively against Houston, six of his 10 total rebounds coming on the offensive board, two of which were tip-shots. He is averaging 3.3 offensive rebounds so far in this Summer League, a great number that should certainly help a Celtics team that was 29th in rebounding last season. 

He should be alarmed as to his foul totals, averaging 4.8 fouls-per-game in 26.5 minutes of play. If he wants more minutes, he needs to discipline himself on the defensive end and be very careful in regards to his positioning. It would also serve him well to avoid being too aggressive and being called for offensive fouls, as he will probably find himself on the block often. 

In terms of his defense, the Canadian is quite frankly a mediocre defender. He is not athletic, something that hurts his cause on that end, and is not very quick on his feet when defending his man. Look for teams to exploit him on pick-and-rolls as he does a very poor job of containing it, being too slow to recover to his man or to stop the pick-and-roll ball handlers from blowing by him and getting to the rim. Finally, he gets caught over-helping at times, allowing his man to wander and get enough space to control the pass and fire a great look.

Some scouts have compared him to the likes of Spencer Hawes and Fabricio Oberto. The way he’s been playing, it is without a doubt that he is the tools to be much better then those two, no disrespect to any of them. It isn’t by chance that he is so refined offensively. As a kid, he was taught the game of basketball by having the game broken down for him completely, making him a very fundamentally-sound player. In the same way, he must break the game down on the defensive end of the floor in order to elevate his IQ and develop his skills as a defender. 

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