COMMENTARY| The NBA's summer league gives teams and fans a glimpse of the talent (or lack thereof) that their roster may possess for the upcoming season. It's important to remain calm on all levels when making assessments on the participants in summer league, but sometimes attention-grabbing play occurs. Fab Melo and Kelly Olynyk of the Boston Celtics have both opened eyes with their play this summer, but for very different reasons.
Melo was drafted 22nd overall in last year's draft and by most accounts it was a mistake then. The thinking behind the selection was that Boston needed size, rebounding and shot-blocking. All of those things were true and still are. What is also true is that Melo is a project center that will need years to develop. Years that even a team in rebuilding mode may not be able to see to fruition.
After a year of service in the league Melo has shown little signs of growth, which at this point is reason to be concerned. His woes start with a low a basketball IQ as he is consistently out of position on both sides of the floor. Poor spacing and at times sheer confusion in the offense are badges he wears like a scarlet letter.
His summer league performance was highlighted by the two games he lost his starting position to Boston's second-round pick Colton Iverson. Couple that with his pedestrian stat line of 6.2 points and 3.4 rebounds and the upcoming season doesn't look much brighter for Melo. The veteran-leadership the Celtics once had, that could have also helped him to develop, is now scattered around the league in Los Angeles and Brooklyn. He could very well be facing another extended stint in the D-League next season. That isn't exactly progression from a former first-round pick.
For every glass half-empty there is a glass half-full. That is what Olynyk represents for the Celtics.
Olynyk was the antithesis of Melo with his showing at summer league. After averaging 18 points, 7.8 rebounds and a surprising 1.8 steals, he was the unexpected darling amongst all of the players in attendance.
Many Boston fans immediately questioned why he was selected 16th by the Celtics in June's draft as they hoped for a bigger name from the college ranks to join the team. Their perplexed state has quickly turned to favor. Some have already anointed him the second-coming of Dirk Nowitzki or Kevin Love after a stellar showing in Orlando.
Olynyk has been judged by the prisoner of the moment mentality twice in just three weeks. He clearly is better than advertised but he is not ready to assume the mantle of a future Hall of Famer or two-time All-Star. The Boston fan base is just hopeful and eager for a return to elite status in the league which can put unfair pressure on promising players still trying to develop.
He has shown an ability to handle the ball which is unusual for a man of his stature. He can shoot from anywhere on the floor and is a decent rebounder. He was effective in the pick and roll and made passes to cutters or spot up shooters with accuracy. The only real detraction on Olynyk thus far is on defense where he gets pushed around a bit. He will need to work on his base to avoid punishment in the post on a regular basis. Fortunately because of his range and footwork, defending him with physical play doesn't seem to affect him greatly.
It might be too early to write off Melo completely or to justify the praise of Olynyk, but the results from the Orlando Summer League have projected a path for both. Either way, the Celtics will have to be patient.Warren Shaw is a NBA contributor to Dime Magazine and Co-host of the weekly basketball podcast "The Baseline". He has covered various NBA events live while also conducting one on one player interviews. His work can also be found at Celticslife.com and Prosportsblogging.com.
Follow him on Twitter @shawsports.
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