COMMENTARY | When forward Kelly Olynyk was drafted as the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, the basketball world already knew that it was likely future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were on their way to play for the Brooklyn Nets.
So when it was announced that the 7-footer Olynyk would be traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Boston Celtics on draft night, he must have instantly known that he would have the chance to prove himself right away and fill the void left by the departure of two of the team's most important players in recent franchise history.
With Olynyk's combination of size and skills, he has a great chance of winning the NBA's next Rookie of the Year Award.
Right Place at the Right Time
Olynyk joins the Celtics at one of the most interesting and opportune times in recent memory. The team has clearly entered a period of rebuilding after six consecutive seasons of putting a competitive squad on the court, an era that included six playoff berths, two NBA Finals appearances, and a championship in 2008. The Celtics have also recently hired former standout coach at Butler Brad Stevens to replace fan-favorite Doc Rivers, making every face on the roster a new face for the head coach.
With all of the big changes, Olynyk enters the spotlight without high expectations for the team's success, with only minimal competition for playing time at forward and center, and with a new head coach who knows the college game and can help Olynyk transition to the next level. We also shouldn't forget to point out that he gets to play on a team with the league's top assist man from last year, Rajon Rondo, an old-school point guard who loves to pass first and create easy buckets for big men. It really couldn't be a better time for Olynyk to join one of the NBA's most storied franchises.
Olynyk's Size and Skills Will Make Him Successful Right Away
Many NBA scouts agree that Olynyk was one of the draft's most NBA-ready players. He has a big body, standing at 7 feet and nearly 240 pounds. He had a reputation for working hard at Gonzaga, where he helped lead the team to its first No. 1 overall NCAA tournament seed in school history.
Olynyk also has polished offensive skills in the low-post and as a shooter, hitting 62.9 percent of his shots from the field last season and 77.6 percent of his free throws. He has an athletic frame, knows how to run the floor, and even manages to get a block or two when the situation presents itself. In short, Olynyk has size, skills and a motor, all attributes that make young players successful quickly.
Taking the NBA Summer League by Storm
Kelly Olynyk came to the NBA Summer League in Orlando, Fla., ready to show the world he wasn't messing around. In five games, he managed to average 18 points with a field-goal percentage of .578, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a telling 1.8 steals. Of all the rookies in Orlando, Olynyk was the most surprising, and only Orlando guard Victor Oladipo put up numbers that were equally as impressive as those displayed by the Celtics forward.
The Rookie of the Year Picture at a Glance
Though all the signs point to Kelly Olynyk having a solid rookie season, what would make anyone think he is one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year?
The overwhelming majority of experts agree that the incoming 2013 rookie class is relatively shallow compared to past years. There are no true standouts this season, a fact evidenced by the draft's surprise first overall pick, Anthony Bennett, and there is really no one more polished at the offensive end of the floor at his position than Olynyk is.
Additionally, and this cannot be overstated, many of the top picks from the 2013 draft will play on teams where there is simply more young talent to compete with at every position. The Celtics, on the other hand, have been very successful over the past half-decade and therefore have not had the opportunity to stock a lot of good young players on its roster. As a result, Boston is the only team which nabbed a highly rated, polished and NBA-ready player that also has a deficit of young talent.
Few other high 2013 draft picks have the offensive game and the opportunity Olynyk has available. The only question now is whether Olynyk will shrink under the 17 championship banners hanging over the parquet at the TD Garden, or if he will rise to the occasion and become the new face of a legendary team.
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Justin Haskins is a New England native and journalism student at Regent University. He has been obsessively following Boston professional sports for 10 years and has been published in numerous online publications and websites.
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