Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Causeway Street's Midseason Report Card: Kelly Olynyk

Causeway Street's Joel, Dutra, and Josue have turned in their mid-term report cards for the Celtics. Each player's assessment will be released throughout the week, and throughout NBA All-Star Weekend. 

Photo: Associated Press

11ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.7apg

Joel's Grade: B-

Olynyk has always been more effective off the bench than as a starter. The simple fact is that he misses too many defensive assignments, making him easily foul-trouble prone, which has slowed his offensive rhythm one too many times. His rebounding average could be higher (5.4 boards per game) and he still needs to work on protecting the rim. Sill, the second-year player is better suited to play power forward than center, despite being a seven-footer. When he keeps things simple and let's the game come to him, good things happen. 

The other side of the floor is where Olynyk shines. Before the recent ankle injury, he was shooting over 50 percent from the field. Though he lost his starting job to Tyler Zeller (mid-November), Olynyk showed flashes of being an instant-offense sixth man, which Brad Stevens truly needed at the time. Even his passing skills are underrated at times. 

Now that his progress has been delayed a bit due to this minor setback (injury), two questions remained unanswered: 

1) How does Olynyk fit into Stevens' recent small-ball lineup when he returns after the all-star break?

2) Is Olynyk a trust-worthy player in late-game situations?

We will soon find out after the all-star break. 

Dutra's Grade: C

I really want to get on the Kelly Olynyk bandwagon. I like his size, his shooting, and his confidence on the offensive end. He has made strides (albeit small strides, but strides nonetheless) on the defensive end and has definitely improved from his rookie campaign. Yet, I'm having trouble giving him a grade higher than a C. Halfway through his second season, Olynyk has battled injures and inconsistent play which is negatively affecting my grade for him. His busted up ankle forced him out of the past 10 games and has him out until at least the All-Star Game. 

Olynyk started the year on a roller coaster ride of production. There were nights when he looked like the best player on the floor, and then there were other nights when he's hard to watch. His season can be summed up in a two game sample. On January 10, against the Raptors, Olynyk scored 23 points in 27 minutes on 8-11 shooting. However, the Celtics lost by 13. Then the next game, the Celtics get one of the biggest wins of the year against the Pelicans, but Olynyk played arguably the worst game of his season, scoring 2 points on 1-3 shooting, and battled foul trouble all game. So he plays the best game in a loss, followed by his worst game in a win. Enigma, frustrating, flash in the pan? I don't know how to describe it but that two-game sample has been a microcosm of Olynyk's NBA career to date. 

Olynyk's putting up 11-points per game and 5 rebounds per game at 51%/37%/68% (fg/3pt/ft percentages). They are solid numbers, and I think when he returns from injury he will have a more defined role as a 6th man. He struggled at scoring points during the early part of the season due to his undefined role as Brad Stevens tinkered with multiple lineups. Olynyk will definitely strive in this new role, stretching the floor and benefiting by playing against second unit bigs. So right now, I have Kelly locked in at a 'C' but I would not be surprised if he becomes a key cog in the rotation once his role is set. 

Josue's Grade: B-

As a second year player, Olynyk has improved in every statistical category this season. He has bumped up his averages in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. Although the margin of improvement isn't large, it is however, an improvement; which is what a team looks for in a second-year player. But his defense is his biggest weakness and it's stunting his scoring potential. Olynyk's fouls per game has also gone up since his rookie year, he's averaging nearly four fouls per game; a telling sign of bad defense. 

Olynyk's defense is the main reason why he was demoted from the starting lineup. His lack of defense has also proved to coaches that he is definitely not a center, and isn't talented enough at power forward to start over Jared Sullinger. But Kelly has flourished in his new role off the bench. He's able to score over back up power forwards from downtown and has improved on his mid-range shot. Kelly has proved that he is a double-digit scorer in this league. But if he were to improve his defense, he could stay on the floor longer, boost his 11ppg average, and become a great sixth man for the Celtics. This flaw is why he has been a bit inconsistent at times, and why I couldn't give him a grade higher than a B-.

As a seven-footer, Kelly isn't going to be a post up guy. It's not who he is, and the Celtics know that. But his one dribble-pull up jumper inside the thee-point arc is getting harder to defend, and if he can develop that Dirk Nowitzki-like fade away, that would be great. But first thing's first, Kelly: be a good one-on-one defender, keep yourself out of foul trouble and you could score 15-16 every night. 


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