Kelly Olynyk, who the Boston Celtics traded up from the No. 16 pick to the No. 13 pick to take in the 2013 NBA Draft, impressed in his first summer league game. A seven footer with three-point range, he scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his summer debut for Boston.
Olynyk was a polarizing prospect coming out of Gonzaga this spring. His shooting range and size had some singing his praises, but detractors pointed to his lack of athleticism and suspect defense.
So, of course, in his first action in summer league, he shot the ball well but struggled at times on the defensive end. His height let him get his shot off against long defenders, and he even did well when he put the ball on the floor and went to the basket. He’s not a playmaker, not yet, but he showed that defenses forcing him to be more than a spot-up shooter won’t be a weakness.
His lack of quickness and strength hurt him defensively at times, as the Orlando Magic consistently went at him with success. That could be a problem for Olynyk when the real season starts; if summer league players can victimize him like that, then imagine what top-end NBA players will do.
But the defenses in the summer league are as basic as you can get, and in the real games, you can hide players with defensive issues. They allow zones, and the Celtics rarely ever play straight-up man-to-man defense anyway. Defense matters in the NBA, now more than ever, but you can move a guy like Olynyk around so teams can’t take advantage of him on that end.
And what he can do offensively is special. He’s big and can shot, and anytime you can get your shot off and make it when you’re not really open, there’s a spot for you on an NBA court.
2013 is going to be the beginning of the rebuilding process in Boston. They have a long way to go, that’s for sure. But the early results on first-round pick Olynyk give Boston fans hope.