The Boston Celtics entered this season with a whole new identity after pulling the plug on a historic era.
Though they parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers and traded away Celtics legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics still had a pretty successful offseason. It all started with the NBA draft. Boston made a cerebral move and traded for big man Kelly Olynyk, who was originally drafted by the Dallas Mavericks.
Coming out of Gonzaga, the Canadian big man averaged 5.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 0.1 BLKPG while shooting .574 from the field in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs. Due to his insignificant performance and minimal playing time, Olynyk decided to redshirt as a junior.
Upon return, Olynyk reinvented himself, as he bulked up his 7-foot frame and became a monster down low both offensively and defensively. On the season, he averaged 17.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 BLKPG and shot 62.9 percent from the field, leading Gonzaga to a no. 1 seed in the NCAA national tournament. Due to his much-improved season and to help lead the Bulldogs to a 16-0 Western Conference mark and a 29-2 regular season record, Olynyk was named the player of the year.
Olynyk played great in the NBA summer league as he averaged 18.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 1.8 SPG while hitting 58 percent of his shots. Though there was some knocks on his defensive game, he showed the ability to hit the mid-range jumper and inhabited a variety of post moves. Olynyk has the potential to be an important piece in the Celtics’ rebuilding puzzle. After dominating the NCAA, he brought over the same mentality and level of efficiency in Orlando as he did in Gonzaga.
Olynyk has seen a lot of action on the court, but hasn’t turned his time on the floor into positive production as he is averaging a mere 8.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG and has shot a horrendous 39.5 percent from the field.
Though the regular season may be in full swing, the year is still young and it is safe to say that he will continue to develop. Olynyk has played his role perfectly in a season where players need to earn their time on the court. Though he is dubbed the future of the Celtics franchise, he will have to compete with a 260-pound Spaniard who goes by the name of Vitor Faverani.
Faverani has taken a much different path to the NBA compared to Olynyk. Despite being eligible in the 2009 NBA draft, Faverani was not selected and played in Spain for two teams until this season. The big man was signed to a three-year deal worth $6 million to beef up Boston’s frontcourt and provide an imposing presence in the paint. And he has done just that.
In three games played, Faverani has averaged 6.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 1.8 BLKPG while shooting a stellar 45.5 percent from the field. Not only has he solidified himself as a towering presence in the paint, but he is the only true center in the Celtics’ frontcourt.
One of the biggest deciding factors will be how both Olynyk and Faverani perform when franchise player Rajon Rondo is on the floor. Yes, Rondo is the franchise player. If the Celtics truly agree with me on this point, then we will we see how the chemistry begins to develop as the season progresses.
For now though, Rondo is out of the equation and the Celtics need to figure out how they can muster up some wins as they are winless heading into Miami to face the defending champion Heat. Expect to see a healthy dose of Olynyk and Faverani not only in this upcoming game, but throughout the remainder of the season as the Celtics try to come to a decisive conclusion on who really is the future center of the Boston Celtics.