Team: Boston Celtics
Position: Power Forward/Center
Role: Bench Player
Analysis: Kelly Olynyk is in a good place in Boston. The Celtics dealt Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets a year after losing Ray Allen to the Miami Heat in free agency, officially ending the Big Three Era. The Celtics will start to rebuild and Olynyk was their first draft pick of this new era.
With Garnett out of the picture, the Celtics really don’t have much in the way of big men. Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries are solid, but are better set at power forward. Plus, the Celtics will probably look to deal them. Jared Sullinger looked like a solid player (6.0 points, 5.9 rebounds per game), but appeared in just 45 games due to injuries. Fellow 2012 rookie Fab Melo (1.2 ppg, 0.5 rpg), the only true center the team has, did not look like an NBA player at all and appeared in just six games.
In his final year at Gonzaga, Olynyk averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. In the Orlando Pro Summer League, Olynyk stole the show. The seven-footer averaged 18.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He shot 57.8% from the field.
Before that summer league performance, Olynyk’s NBA career and Rookie of the Year chances didn’t have a lot hype. Afterwards, many pundits became to change their mind on Olynyk. I’m not willing to go that far, but Olynyk is a skilled player. He has an excellent shot for his size. Olynyk also should have plenty of opportunities to put the ball in the basket for a couple of reasons. He has an fantastic distributor in Rajon Rondo getting him the ball and it is going to be a long year in Boston. Even if Bass and Humprhies aren’t dealt, Olynyk should be able to earn big minutes at center.
Of course, Olynyk’s small frame and questionable defense could keep him off of the court. New head coach Brad Stevens always emphasized defense at Butler and I don’t see that changing in the NBA.
Statistical Projection: 25 mpg, 11.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg