The Cleveland Cavaliers will have the 1st pick and the 19th pick in this upcoming draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the first round on June 27. Today, we profile Kelly Olynyk.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Kelly Olynyk
Weight: 235 lbs.
Honors: 2013 Consensus All-America 1st Team, West Coast Conference Player of the Year
2012-2013 Per Game Stats: 17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 62.9 FG%, 30.0 3PT%, 77.6 FT%
2012-2013 NCAA Tournament Stats: 23.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 16-37 shooting, 15-21 from the line in two NCAA tournament games
Kelly Olynyk is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2013 draft. A large, mobile center, Olynyk has seen his draft stock start to slide in light of the draft combine last week, where he tested poorly. Still, Olynyk is a player who looked NBA ready this past season at Gonzaga, when he put his team on his back and carried Gonzaga to a 29-3 overall record and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. There’s no doubting that Olynyk is a talented player. However, I am skeptical that he will be able to translate that into a productive NBA career.
(Via Draft Express)
The big thing going for Olynyk is his mobility. Kelly Olynyk is quite agile for standing at seven feet tall, and while he isn’t the quickest player, Olynyk can run the floor pretty well for a big man. He also has good strength, which he uses to get good position on the block and score in traffic. However, he could still stand to improve in this area, as he often finds himself getting outmuscled on defense and when fighting for rebounds. Olynyk is certainly not very athletic, which could be a bit of a problem at the next level, but in college, he had no problem overcoming this. Olynyk had a really poor showing at the combine last week as well, which is concerning. He measured at just under a 6’10” wingspan, which is quite concerning for his ability to challenge shots defensively, especially combined with a 29.5-inch vertical leap. Olynyk has never been a good leaper, but that combination of poor length and vertical will not benefit him at the next level. Olynyk’s lane agility time was fantastic for a big, but his three-quarter time was subpar. I’m usually hesitant to put all of my stock in combine measurements, but this performance echoes Olynyk’s deficits on the court and creates a serious red flag for how Olynyk will survive in the NBA.
Olynyk is a great offensive prospect. He has a lot going for him at this end, particularly his shooting. Olynyk is very efficient on offense, connecting on 63 percent of his shots from the floor and 78 percent from the line. He’s an effective scorer both inside and out, equally comfortable burying an 18-footer or executing moves in the post. Olynyk is an especially sound post player thanks to his mobility, which allows him to attack opponents without having to outmuscle them. He also has more than a few really well developed post moves, including a sound righty hook, beautiful spin move and an improving turn-around. He also has outstanding touch, as he is able to finish from a variety of angles and over defenders with ease. Much like Mason Plumlee, he should be able to figure out scoring in the post pretty quickly. He also has a really solid jump shot and, perhaps most importantly, can finish well off the dribble, making him even more versatile in his offense. Still, he does have his deficits on this end. My major problem with Olynyk is his rebounding. He really doesn’t have great rebounding instincts, often wandering too close to the basket, and doesn’t box out with regularity. He still put up decent rebounding numbers in college, but it’s difficult to see how he’d be able to handle the rigors of rebounding against quality opponents every night. I somewhat cringe at the idea of him having to handle Joakim Noah or Emeka Okafor on the glass. Olynyk is also not the greatest at setting screens, more often electing to slip screens and crash to the hoop. This was fairly effective within the Gonzaga offense, but in the NBA, he’s going to need to be able to set hard screens and still roll to the hoop. I think that will come with time. As it stands now, though, Olynyk should still be able to be a productive offensive player thanks to his shooting, and would be a solid option off the bench until he became a better rebounder and defender.
Olynyk has quite a few holes in his defensive game, and this is where he is going to have to work very, very hard to become a quality NBA player. We’ve mentioned Olynyk’s rebounding issues, but overall Olynyk’s just not really good on defense. He can defend PNR situations pretty well, but he’s prone to over-hedging screens, and when he does, it ends disastrously because he lacks the lateral quickness to recover. He’s not a rim protector and struggles to block shots otherwise because of his lack of length or explosiveness. There’s also the issue of team defense, where he gets lost easily on rotations because he helps too much. This could be fixed by a really good defensive coach, but it might take awhile for him to get up to speed. As far as post defense goes, Olynyk isn’t awful, but I wouldn’t exactly sick him on Zach Randolph right away and hope for good results. Olynyk also isn’t great on the perimeter, where he has the mobility to close out and stay on guys but sometimes gambles a bit too much and struggles to read what his opponent is going to do. At best, at least immediately, Olynyk is someone that is going to have to be hidden on weaker offensive threats, and will be trusted to help on screens and provide weakside D. It’s going to be a long, long road for him to not be a minus on that end.
Olynyk took off the 2011-12 season to work on his game, a savvy move that paid dividends for him. He got much, much stronger in his year off, and without current Los Angeles Laker Robert Sacre holding down the fort as the Bulldogs starting center, Olynyk stepped in and transformed Gonzaga into an elite college basketball squad. He’s definitely willing to work to improve, which is a great thing for his potential, even if he is 22. He seems very willing to work on his weaknesses. One of those weaknesses will be his court awareness, which, frankly, is pretty terrible. Olynyk struggles so much with team defense partly because he does not realize what is going on around him. This can also affect him on the offensive end at times, as he is very turnover prone, averaging 3.3 turnovers per 36 minutes. That’s on par with Michael Beasley and Eric Gordon this past season. Court awareness is something that could really afflict him negatively in the NBA. However, Olynyk really does look ready to learn and become a talented NBA player, and seems to be a pretty good leader from this past year at Gonzaga.
There’s evidence in the NBA that Olynyk’s style of game can work. Another seven-footer that couldn’t rebound, didn’t play D and turned the ball over way too much when he came into the league, but had solid post moves and three-point range exists. That player has an MVP, made 12 straight All-NBA teams and won a title. He even had ridiculously long hair for most of his career. That’s right. Even though I’ve blasted him for most of this article, I think Olynyk compares well with a young Dirk Nowitzki. Now, Dirk is what Olynyk might become if literally everything goes right for Olynyk. He needs to land in a perfect situation, become much quicker and much more aware on the court and will probably need a million other breaks for that to happen to his career. However, at the base of it, we know a player like Olynyk can have a place in the NBA.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
I don’t know that the Cavs would want to grab Olynyk only because Tyler Zeller is already there under the “project offensive center with range who can’t play a lick of defense” category. Olynyk just isn’t a good fit here, even though Mike Brown is the type of coach that he needs to become a more well-rounded defensive player. Olynyk is also better suited on a team that can use him creatively on offense, and “creative offense” really isn’t in the Mike Brown lexicon. I’m not sure Olynyk will be available at the 19th pick either because the Celtics and Hawks both could be good landing spots for him, particularly Atlanta, who could use his unique offense to space the floor with Al Horford or Ivan Johnson. If the Cavs do end up picking him, I wouldn’t expect Olynyk to play much this season, perhaps going down to the D-League with Zeller and Anderson Varejao getting a majority of the minutes right away.