With one game in the books at the 2013 Orlando Summer League, I think we can pretty safely assume that Kelly Olynyk is a future hall-of-famer destined for multiple NBA Finals MVP awards. Probably.
More seriously, Olynyk was the most highly anticipated player on the floor not named Victor Oladipo in a 95-88 loss to the Orlando Magic for the Celtics Summer League team, and he didn’t disappoint. Olynyk scored 25 efficient points on 9-12 shooting, including 2-4 from behind the 3-point line, and he pulled down seven rebounds. His offensive game was diverse and entertaining as he scored off the dribble, from mid-range in pick-and-pop plays, and on spot-up attempts from 3-point range, most of which were contested. Olynyk also got to the line five times — converting all of his attempts — and dished out two assists, one of which was a pocket pass that would have impressed Uncle Drew.
Summer League, as a whole, is a group of individuals with individual goals which essentially negates the importance of wins and losses. This is pretty much in direct opposition to the regular season which (ideally) is a group of individuals with one group goal. The regular season might be preferable, but Summer League better lends itself to bullet points, so let’s take a look at what we saw this morning/afternoon.
In the first half, Fab Melo looked like everybody’s worst nightmare. He was winded early, couldn’t box out on free throw attempts (let alone regular field goals), and he didn’t just miss defensive rotations; he missed his own assignment on several plays which led to lay-ups and dunks. It was ugly.
But in the second half, something weird happened. First, he made a hook shot that hit the rim at least three times before falling through. Then he blocked Oladipo on a drive, and the ball bounced off Oladipo and out of bounds. Then he made another hook shot. Then he made a jumper after faking Kyle O’Quinn up in the air, drawing an and-one. By the end of the game, Melo had eight rebounds. It’s tough to know what to make of Melo’s performance (and certainly too early to draw any conclusions), but he looked minimally better than last year.
That being said, when Melo caught the ball near the hoop, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player look more tentative going up for a dunk. His weak attempts led to one devastating block by Moe Harkless and one foul. During the regular season, attempts like those would much more likely result in the former than the latter.
We already knew this, but defensively, Olynyk will struggle, at least at first. He doesn’t have impressive athleticism or length, and while he showed a lot of effort, it mostly led to fouls (Olynyk committed six in the game, but players can’t foul out in Summer League). None of this is unfixable, but it will take some time for him to adjust to the NBA. It is worth noting, however, that Olynyk was matched up with Andrew Nicholson several times, and Nicholson had an atrocious game, going 1-9 with three turnovers including one play in which Olynyk pulled the chair on him.
Tony Mitchell, last year’s D-League MVP, played a solid game. Mitchell scored 16 points on 5-10 shooting, including 2-5 from 3-point range. He was eclipsed by Olynyk’s performance, but he made a couple of nice cuts and knocked down open 3-pointers.
It’s tough to know what to make of Phil Pressey’s Summer League debut. Pressey was 4-5 from the field, he clearly has excellent quickness, and he ran the offense competently at times. On the final play of the first quarter, he showed excellent clock management, running the clock down to .5 seconds and dishing to Jayson Granger for a 3-pointer. On the other hand, he looked a little out of control at times and finished with five turnovers. After one game, it’s probably fair to chalk up those turnovers to nerves and excitement, but if the trend continues this week, it might be worrisome.
It’s a little unfortunate that jumping really high doesn’t ensure you a career in the NBA, because Courtney Fells hits his head on the stratosphere when he gets up in the air. He finished 3-7 and 0-3 from 3-point range with one rebound.
Colton Iverson did very little offensively, but he showed a proclivity for help defense, moving well across the lane consistently. His most flashy play was his one blocked shot, erasing an attempt by Nicholson with emphasis, but he also grabbed four rebounds and affected several other shots.
My recommendation for Olynyk’s nickname: Threebird. You’re welcome.
As the week progresses, we’ll get a better idea of what we can expect from a lot of these guys, Pressey and Melo in particular. But for today, we can happily overreact to Kelly Olynyk’s performance. THREEEEBIRD!
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA
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