Olynyk drives for a layup

Gonzaga Draft Prospects: Kelly Olynyk

Hello Everyone!

This is my inaugural post on West Coast Convo, and I am honored to be part of such a great young blog.

Now, to actual sports.

The NBA Lottery recently happened, and with that comes speculation about who’s going where, and to what teams. With Gonzaga having two players, Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris, entering the 2013 NBA Draft, let’s take a look at their draft prospects, potential teams they land on, and players they can look to emulate in their future seasons.

This week’s installment will cover Kelly Olynyk, a 7 foot, 235 pound Junior. Olynyk is forgoing his senior year of NCAA eligibility in order to enter the draft, as his stock likely won’t rise, given his superb breakout junior season in which he was named a consensus 1st Team All-American. Kelly’s college game consisted of above average ball handling for a seven-footer, a reliable mid-range jump shot (with range all the way out to arc), and an improved, but often raw, post game.

Olynyk projects as a high-skill center, one capable of a lot of offensive versatility. His post game can do nothing but go up, and his ball handling, passing, and shooting are already through the roof in comparison to other major prospects in this draft. His athleticism is good, but not elite. Olynyk’s greatest issues come on the defensive side of the ball, where he needs to grow stronger and more assertive as a paint protector, not just as a speed bump to shoot around.

Olynyk best projects as a Pau Gasol style of player. In the future, Olynyk could be the centerpiece of an offense as both a distributor and a scorer. His IQ certainly indicates that he could be this, as he was a point guard in high school before having an 8 inch growth spurt.

Finally, the teams Olynyk could end up being drafted by. Olynyk is not an upper first round talent, based on most evaluations (including my own). However, I do think that his skill set fits extremely well with offensively-minded teams that need a center who can both run the floor and play in a half court. I think Olynyk goes to the Thunder at the 12th pick overall. It’s a little high for a mid-first round talent, but not too high. The Thunder NEED A CENTER (and no, Perkins doesn’t count) who can add some offense to their game, as it is currently coming from none other than their two scoring wings, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Olynyk fits the bill. He’s the perfect young third or fourth option to develop into a nightly rotation player. Who knows, one day he could be a starting center in the NBA on a championship-level squad in OKC.

Other destinations I like for Olynyk are the Celtics at the 16th pick (they need someone when KG decides to retire in the next 35 years) and the Jazz at the 14th pick. The Jazz, upon first glance, doesn’t seem to be a logical choice. They have a crowded frontcourt between Enes Kanter, Al Jefferson, and their 5 other power forwards! But, you’ve got to remember, this is the JAZZ we’re talking about here. They don’t do anything other than draft big men. It’s their pastime. Given that logic, it only seems reasonable that Olynyk goes to them to spend his entire career waiting on the trade block.

Oh, Utah.

Tags: Basketball Draft Gonzaga Gonzaga Bulldogs Kelly Nba Olynyk

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