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Young Celtics Show Promise Despite Summer League Loss

 

The following was written by CelticsHub contributor Tom Westerholm.

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

  • Phil

    Basically a repost of what I said on the last post, but I'm starting to like Olynyk more and more. I think it's easier to find a defensive big to pair him with than it is to find a good stretch 4. He may have to come off the bench because of his D, and I'm not sure how a Sullinger/Olynyk front court works defensively (though I really like it offensively,) but the Cs are in asset grab mode right now. They can work on winning details later.

    There's a little bit of Lillard syndrome possible here though. Everyone went gaga over Lillard's advanced performance as a rookie last year, but he's (I think,) a couple months younger than Kyrie Irving, who had been in the league for three years. Olynyk is older than most rookies, so he should be more advanced. You can still expect him to improve, but it does make me question how high his ceiling is. Still, a 7 footer who can shoot and move the ball if you close hard always has value.

    • Mike Spoon

      Just to clear something up: Irving is like 9 months YOUNGER than Lillard.

      • Phil

        Thanks, I knew it was something like that, but I forgot the specifics.

  • hax

    Olynykkkkkkkkkkkkkk

  • dasein

    better than shooting 1/12 right

  • Phil

    Programming note: NBATV is rebroadcasting the game at 8PM. Just letting anyone like me who slept through it know >_>

    Given the offensive turd pile that the last two games have been, it'll be nice to see a barn burning game in the 80s.

  • Phil

    Re-watching the game right now; it's very well played for Summer League. Both teams have guys who can create (Oladipo looks way better than I expected,) and score. So much better to watch a game like this than whatever people Miami picked out of a Wal Mart to play for their team.

    Olynyk's post defense on Nicholson has been good. He obviously needs to add a lot of strength considering how Nicholson (who's not huge,) is pounding him, but we know he needs to add strength. His offense has looked as good in the game as it did in the box score, but high percentage shooting tends to do that. Hopefully those finesse moves hold up against tougher defenders, because they're pretty.

    Phil Pressey's the other guy who I've liked so far. His head seems down when he's driving a little, but he's definitely worth watching the rest of the week. Tony Mitchell has shown some flashes too.

    On the down side, Iverson didn't really show anything, and Melo hasn't given me any reason to soften my stance on him.

  • check12check

    I got the chance to watch a little of the game, (it was on pretty late for me) and i generally liked what I saw from kelly ifinallylearnedhowtopronouncehislastname olynyk. I mean, it's usually easy to like a guy when he is splashtastic for the night right? the great thing about that is that hoops aren't any different in the regular season than they are in the summer league. I want a larger body of evidence than 12 attempts, but it seems like the kid has a nice shoot.

    I thought he looked better on D than he is being given credit for. he certainly wasn't flawless, but I felt he was often in the right spots and moving how he should have been.

    I remain skeptical about his athleticism (well, really just his 3 inch vertical), and only time will tell how he looks when is playing against real pros, but a solid first outing for our newest celtic. I can see him earning minutes for this team quickly. the amount of minutes remains a mystery, but minutes nonetheless.

    P.S. I want Fab to work out so badly, but he just doesn't seem to have it in him to play NBA ball. it's heartbreaking, because the guy has all of the tools, but he just doesn't seem to understand the game well enough. it's like he is playing the same game as everyone else but 2 seconds later.

    • check12check

      * a nice shot.

  • SmalltownID

    Mark my words as someone who watched Olynyk more than any other college player last year….he is going to be one of the best draft picks in a long, long time for the C’s and from this draft class. I simply cannot believe he didn’t go before 13. My only fear is we will dump him in a trade before it is apparent how good he will be.

    • check12check

      I hope so. I think he is going to be on par with sully: a really solid player, and someone you love to have on your team, but pretty much just a good rotation guy.

      that having been said, if his shooting proves to be as good as it looks right now over the long haul, I could practically see him turning into the next dirk. We were all ready for a way over the top, insane summer time declaration like this right?

  • SmalltownID

    Olynyk, simply put, is well rounded enough if you put someone to guard him on the perimeter he has the ability to punish them inside. He is not easy to guard in either scenario; especially not both scenarios by the same defender.

  • Vincent

    Can Fab Melo at least wave a towel? Does he have any skills at all that would be useful to an NBA team?

    • Phil

      I thought his useful skill was already established: Comic relief.

      But hey, look at the bright side; if everything goes right, in three years we can have a player locked in at a position that's becoming more and more obsolete every year!

      • check12check

        I'd argue that the center position isn't really obsolete, but rather there are just no talented bigs in the league right now. IMHO, the most talented big men are still the old guys. KG, Timmy, Dirk….can you really think of anyone that you can throw into discussion with these guys? I think people would point to griffin (nothing but dunk highlights) or Dwight (I think he just needs to accept that is ancillary on offense and he could really be of value) but i don't buy it. If a young david robinson, hakeem, or shaq were to walk into the league right now, people would start to remember what a good center can do for a team

        • Phil

          An elite center will always have value. That ceiling is so far beyond Melo's though that it's pointless to bring up those names. His best case scenario is a taller Joel Anthony, you know, that guy who plays for Miami in garbage time?

          The slow/non super athletic 5 who messes up offensive spacing and can't stay with faster 4s/5s on the perimeter on defense is a position that's going extinct.

  • swissflix

    How come Danny made such a good move drafting Sully, just to be followed by Melo?

    • check12check

      Melo was the quintessential risk/reward pick. it's clear that he could be great if he could put it together, but I just don't see that happening. At this point, he holds his own in the D-league. he needs to be dominating down there in order for him to be serviceable in the big leagues

    • Phil

      Ainge has a weakness for 7 footers. It's a similar story this year where he drafted Iverson, a 24 year old no upside 7 footer, when the next pick was a 6-8 power forward who posted better rebounding numbers in college (Iverson's one skill,) and insane analytic projection numbers.

      I'd guess it goes back to his time when 7 footers were the most important guys on the floor, but hopefully he figures out that's the past before he hurts the team's future with more than a late first round pick.

  • Old Old Coch

    If you have an IQ above three you could see the guy set many screens that were not used by his fellow teammates and that he has great shots and that with his size he will be able to defend many in the NBA. I did not see the total defensive flop that many are talking about, it was not there. Not great rebounder, but not bad. The guy without injury is on his way to being above average for the Celtics and he could be a piece of a championship with the right help. His biggest asset is the absence of Doc Rivers who would put him in mothballs. Now the guy can not shoot like he did every night, so get over it, he is a good shooter though.

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