The 2013 NBA draft is going to be quite heavy on big men, as such, a lot of them might blend together a little bit. For this reason, I plan on highlighting some of the big men expected to be drafted in the NBA draft in order to show what sets them all apart. As Kyle already did an excellent profile for Alex Len recently, today I will be looking at Kelly Olynyk.
To start us off, here is a highlight video from this past NCAA season:
In this day and age of players coming to schools for one year before immediately jumping to the NBA, players taking the longer route has become a little more rare. In that aspect, Kelly Olynyk is a bit of a different breed. After two largely unheralded years coming off the bench for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, Olynyk was asked by his coach to redshirt his junior season. Olynyk accepted and spent an entire season practicing with the team but not playing.
The results were formidable. Olynyk came back with longer hair, bigger muscles and an improved post game. In 2013, he looked like an entirely different player than the one that was getting bullied around for his freshman and sophomore seasons. He spent his off time adding some bulk and improving his fundamentals.
Expected draft position: Chad Ford’s latest mock draft has him going 23rd to the Indiana Pacers. Meanwhile, both Draft Express and Draft Net have him going to the Atlanta Hawks with the 17th pick.
Like last year’s number one overall pick Anthony Davis, Olynyk experienced a major growth spurt while he was in high school that saw him from from 6″3 to 6″10 in the matter of a year. He is now a legitimate seven footer. The biggest advantage the growth spurt gave Olynyk is that he did not lose his passing abilities when he got bigger. As a big man, he is comfortable handling the ball on the perimeter and with his height, he is able to look over defenders and find his teammates cutting to open lanes for easy buckets.
His ability to shoot the basketball as a big man is also very above average. He can comfortable take college range threes but it remains to be seen if that will translate to the NBA. His mid range game is excellent and his size allows him to shoot over most of his defenders. He is comfortable shooting off the dribble which allows him to create his own offense.
As I previously mentioned, his biggest improvements in 2013 came in the post. He has added some nice “go-to moves” that allow him to plant himself in the paint and get some easy points when he needs them. Particularly a nice up and under following a pump fake and some standard hook shots, usually off of his primary hand.
The area of his game that will probably hurt him the most in the NBA is his athleticism. Though he is not a slug, Olynyk is not particularly athletic. He is not the type of player who can jump out of the gym and he is not as quick footed as the elite forwards in the NBA. Because of this, he might struggle to get his shot off against NBA forwards who are bigger and stronger than NCAA players. Defensively his lack of foot speed could also hurt him trying to cover old players that have developed shots they can make in their sleep.
What to expect in the NBA:
Ultimately, I think Olynyk will be a great pick up for any team that has a chance to take him late in the first round. He has a great motor, always running up and down the court and chasing loose balls. He also rebounds well for a forward, which tends to translate to the pros. It is doubtful that Olynyk will ever develop into an all star but for team looking to add some front court depth with a player who can stretch the floor with his jump shot, Olynyk will be able to provide some instant boosts to those areas.
As far as where I think he should be drafted, I believe that the mock drafts have him in the right range. Any team looking for a big man past the lottery would not regret drafting Olynyk, personally I think the Celtics could make great use of him with the 16th pick since they really need some rebounding help.