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NBA Portland Trail Blazers

2013 NBA Draft: Kelly Olynyk Would Be Solid Pick For Portland Trail Blazers

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

It’s obviously virtually impossible to predict who the Portland Trail Blazers will take in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft next month. They’re slated 10th based on their record and lottery percentages. Although the Blazers will almost certainly end up with around the 10th pick in the lottery, they could get lucky and land someone like Kelly Olynyk from Gonzaga.

The 7-foot junior, redshirt center, who declared early, would seem to fit in nicely with Portland’s present roster. Although, a lot depends on the personnel the team decides to keep after the offseason dust clears.

Olynyk averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds a game as a red-shirt center. But what the Blazers especially like about him was his solid shooting performance. He hit 63 percent of his shots from the floor. He played no small role in his team’s 32-3 record.

What’s ironic about Olynyk’s emergence as a high draft pick is that he sat out a season prior to 2012-13 to work on his development as a player. During his time out, he worked on strength training, agility and balance. For his first two seasons, he averaged only 4.8 points and 12.0 minutes a game. His improvement was dramatic.

He won’t become a star overnight with a team like Portland but Olynyk could develop, with time, as a tenacious inside player not afraid to mix it up with the rest of the NBA’s big guys. But he has the potential to give any team excellent minutes of hard, tenacious inside work. That’s why he should be very high on Portland’s list.