Kelly Olynyk is a prospect that is already polarizing to draft followers. The stats loved Olynyk, but that comes with the notion he played in a weaker conference than some of the other prospects. He measured 7 feet tall, but that came with a wingspan that didn’t even reach 6′ 10″. For every Olynyk argument, there seems to be a counter argument, which is what makes him such an unknown quality. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Olynyk played at a decently high level and carved out a career for himself, but it wouldn’t be astronomically shocking if he never finds a sticking point in the NBA. Kelly seems like a guy – to me – that doesn’t have a high ceiling, nor is a safe bet of being an NBA player. Some (myself included) are not sold on him compared to others (Dieng, Nogueira), and really don’t think he is a fit to play with Horford.
Measurements: As stated in the previous paragraph, Olynyk is 7 feet but has a 6’9.75″ wing span. There is many concerns that his lack of length can lead to his shots being blocked from the post by NBA length constantly, even though he was an effective player there in college. Guards like Victor Oladipo (6’10”) and Jamaal Franklin (6’11”) are just some of the shorter prospects that have a better wingspan, making Olynyk’s pretty frightening. On top of that, he is a very average athlete. With a 29.5 inch vertical and pedestrian numbers in the running drills with marks of 11.42 and 3.59, Olynyk isn’t going to be the type of player overcoming length issues by running around or jumping over people, a la Blake Griffin.
Numbers: Here is where Kelly shined, putting up 17.8 points a game in 26.4 minutes of action. Olynyk was also efficient scoring the basketball, putting up the third highest field goal percentage in the nation while having the second highest usage percentage in the WCC. Outside of scoring the basketball, Olynyk put up decent rebounding numbers in the WCC with 7.3 a game. Nothing about Olynyk makes him seem like a minus on the glass, but nothing makes him seem like he would be above average as a rebounder. His block percentage (5.1%) was good enough for 5th in his conference and defensive rating was 2nd, but part of that is the conference and the lack of quality competition within.
Offensive Style: Olynyk was brilliant at the offensive end, but how he translates is more up in the air than others. He finished well at the rim at 73% and shot 65% in the post. He has a very soft touch, and is fantastically skilled at the rim. The issue is that it just feels like there is no possible way he is even remotely as successful in the NBA. The same kind of moves that he puts on Moriba De Freitas at Pepperdine most likely won’t work against Larry Sanders, so thinking that he will continually establish himself down low seems silly. Also, there is a notion that Kelly can extend his range even out to the three point line. As nice as that is – and sure it is possible – going 25-75 in his college career with a shorter three point line isn’t exactly an indication of confidence. Olynyk would probably operate in the midrange offensively mostly hitting 52% of those shots last year, and that is just fine in the right team’s system. As a passer, he shows the ability to be a skilled passer for a team, but isn’t a better passer than Gorgui Dieng. He’s also got a decent 11.8% offensive rebounding number, similar to what Dieng put up in the Big East. The issue here is that he is a good scorer, that might not be able to score as smoothly going forward.
Defensive Style: Fundamentally, Olynyk has it together. He rotates well and is in position to make solid plays often. What is going to be problematic here is that wingspan and slight frame. Most slight frame defenders overcome what is looked at as a weakness by using they’re pterodactyl wingspan to reach up over stronger opponents. Kelly really doesn’t have that either though, and could easily be shot over on top of being pushed around. As help defender he also has the tools to be very vanilla, so there is not much there either. He won’t be a completely garbage defensive player, as it seems he understands defensive concepts. The issue is the ceiling defensively is average, and there is a really good chance he even below that.
Fit with the Hawks: Well first off the skill Olynyk possesses that should translate to the NBA the best is the midrange jumper, which of course is one of Al Horford’s best skills. So that already hugely dampers Kelly’s fit with the team. Really he doesn’t make sense at all at this point, in order for Olynyk to succeed in Atlanta there would have to be an Al Horford offensively positioning renaissance that is likely not happening. Al’s really good, but to believe at 27 years old he finally decides he is going to operate inside seems silly. Budenholzer would be good for Olynyk’s career, but there is no way he is a starter – or potential starter – on this team. Could he be a nice bench big when playing with Zaza? Sure, but he is just as likely to not be playing in three years as that, so I don’t see the logic in taking a risk for that type of asset. So in a sense, it isn’t you Kelly; it’s us.