Looking Impressive Thus Far!
A Canadian big man who has the ability to step out and hit from deep. Solid inside game. Desire to crash the boards. Skillful passing ability. Unassuming handles. Deep passion and knowledge of the game. Give or take half a foot and a unmatchable head of hair and one could have sworn that the intro to this piece was self described.
Fortunately for everyone, it is not about a 37 year old with a phone book leaping vertical, but rather the latest Canadian addition to the (Inter) National Basketball Association.
That’s right folks, we are taking over! One year after fellow Bulldog, Rob Sacre left the Gonzaga campus, Kelly Olynyk started his next chapter of his basketball story.
One year after redshirting and deliberating as to whether or not he wanted to continue to play for coach Mark Few, Olynyk surprised the entire NCAA basketball scene with an All-American level season.
After averaging 5.8 ppg, 3.8 rebs, 0.7 ast and 0.1 blks in only 13.5 minutes of action during the 2010-11 season, the 7’0″ Kamloops, BC product used the time in 2011-12 to work on his body away from the court, improving his conditioning and strength in order to hopefully one day battle the professional big men.
It turned out to be that of the three BC products to don a Bulldog uniform over the past five years (Sacre, Olynyk and Bol Kong) that Olynyk would turn in the most prolific season of them all in his junior year.
Meshing his ball handling skills and perimeter game with his new big man body, Olynyk stepped into the vacancy left by Sacre’s departure to the NBA and led the Zags to a first every number one ranking via 17.8 ppg, 7.3 rebs, 1.7 ast and 1.1 blks. With a 32-3 record, the Bulldogs entered a wide open March Madness tournament with high expectations, ones that fell short as the team was bounced in the round of 32.
Despite the team’s tournament shortcomings, Olynyk had found himself high on the draft lists of NBA scouts.
Leapfrogging past the announcement to turn pro, the combine and the team workouts, Thursday June 27th marks a spot in NBA history for west coast Canadian ballers as the Dallas Mavericks drafted Olynyk with the 13th overall pick.
Unfortunately for BC fans, the former South Kamloops Titan was not present as commissioner David Stern shook hands with the final draft class of his tenure.
Quickly the Mavs moved Olynyk to Boston for the #16 and two 2nd rounders, a move that may prove to be very beneficial for the Celtics.
With the trade of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for Gerald Wallace, Kris (Kardashian) Humphries, a few picks and a couple bags of chips, the Celtics now find a gap in the front court, one that Olynyk could fill on opening night.
In an obvious rebuilding stage, the names Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass probably won’t bring comparisons to former Celtic greats, KG, Kevin McHale or Robert Parish.
With the ability to run the pick and roll/slip/pop etc in a variety of effective fashions, starting Olynyk on opening night as your man in the middle is not that bad of an option. OK, his defensive intensity and lack of “mean mugging” a’la KG may not place him on the All-NBA Defensive team.
While he is bound to be a little green (excuse the pun) on both sides of the court, the fact is, there aren’t too many big men in the NBA that are as versitle, especially in the East (Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Andrew Bynum?).
Although summer league stats need to be taken with a grain of salt, in three games to date the Celtics sit at 2-1 in the Orlando Summer League. First up, a seven point loss to the Orlando Magic, a night in which Olynyk dropped a game high 25 points and 7 rebounds. Monday night brought a thirty point drubbing of the Detroit Pistons where the stat line read a more realistic 13 points and 6 rebounds.
Tuesday night featured another stellar effort with 21 points and 9 boards against the Indiana Pacers.
While fellow Canadian Andrew Nicholson, Tony Mitchell and Mason Plumlee are not focal points in their respective teams playbooks, the stat sheets show that Olynyk has a more than servicable future in the league.
Sandwiched somewhere between a Luis Scola and a Spencer Hawes, it would not be out of line to think that Olynyk could provide the rebuilding Celtics with a rookie stat line of 12 ppg, 6 rpg, 2 apg, 1 bpg and a spot on the 2nd team All-NBA Rookie squad.
Some fans/readers may think that this could be far fetched, but if you look at the amount of focus and work that it took for Kelly Olynyk to go from a little used sophomore at Gonzaga to an All-American and NBA lottery pick two years later, combine that drive with a bit of leprechaun luck and the future looks promising for the Boston Celtics.