5 reasons Kelly Olynyk is a great pick

The Celtics traded up in the NBA Draft Thursday night, acquiring the No. 13 pick from the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for two future second-round picks and the 16th overall pick. With the pick, the Celtics selected Gonzaga big man Kelly Olynyk, a 7-foot, 234-pound center/power forward. The Celtics are trying to rebuild, and they could certainly use a 7-footer, but they could also use guards, scorers, and ball-handlers. There’s reason to question whether Olynyk is the right guy. Here are five reasons why he is:

He’s efficient: Most Boston fans haven’t had the chance to watch Olynyk considering he played on the West Coast. Luckily for us, DraftExpress.com watches a lot of games. One major positive in Olynyk’s game is his efficiency. His 1.13 points per possession last season were the highest among draft prospects at his position. His 1.1 points per possession in the halfcourt also ranks highly. He’s great on the pick-and-roll and a 70-percent finisher at the rim. These numbers are massively big compared to some of the big men who went before and after Olynyk.


He’s something of a mystery:This is a good thing. Olynyk is unorthodox, but he’s gotten it done at a very high level for Gonzaga. There are two schools to drafting, and the Celtics seem to be moving away from the school of best athlete wins the day. JaJuan Johnson, who was the Celtics’ pick in the 2011 draft, had the body but never developed the game. Same with J.R. Giddens as a guard. Fab Melo is a work in progress. On the other side, Jared Sullinger, Glen Davis, and Nate Robinson are examples of unorthodox Celtics players who have produced. Boston knows Olynyk can play. The Celtics aren’t drafting on “potential” here.

He can shoot: The NBA is changing. Rather than using slow, plodding big men, NBA teams are playing small forwards on the block and mobile forwards as centers. If you’ve been pining for Kendrick Perkins all these years, you may not have noticed, but the league has moved on. Olynyk can step out and shoot, but he also has the height and post moves to be a traditional big man. He makes 77 percent of his free throws. He’s unorthodox, but so were Jared Sullinger, Glen Davis, and Nate Robinson, and they were all effective.


Danny Ainge likes it: This is going to sound like a kiss-up, but this is a space that recently panned the whole Rivers-Ainge process earlier this week. Ainge felt strongly enough about Olynyk to trade up for him. Recently, he felt strongly about Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, and Sullinger when not many people did. No matter how you feel about the direction of the franchise, it’s hard to argue about Ainge and his staff’s judge of talent (this blog would have taken Marcus Williams in the 2006 draft). Let this one play out.

It’s the first step: As this is being written, a trade of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn for contracts and future considerations is being reported. This was inevitable, but it also speaks to the importance of this single, No. 16 pick. The Celtics view Olynyk as asset, a player worth trading up to get. He’s a power forward of the future in the grand scheme of things. He’s not a safe pick, which is a good thing. The Celtics need to hit a home run, if not now then soon.

Below is a video scouting report of Kelly Olynyk, as well as his Twitter handle.

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