Expected draft position: 10-22
College career: You don't often come across a draft prospect who endured the amount of change Kelly Olynyk went through in the years leading up to the NBA draft. He came onto the recruiting trail as a 6'3 point guard from Canada, and quickly grew to 6'10 by his junior year of high school. He played sparingly in his first two years at Gonzaga behind Robert Sacre and then decided to take a year off from college basketball to play for the Canadian National Team. He returned to Mark Few's program a transformed man, standing 7'0 tall, shedding the baby fat, and adding 10 pounds of muscle in the process.
Olynyk turned in one of the most decorated seasons of all time, leading the country in PER (36.2) while capturing Consensus All-America first team honors in what's accepted as Gonzaga's best season to date. As the Bulldogs continued to creep up the power rankings, so did Olynyk's draft stock. Many have become enamored over his effortless scoring ability and evolution into one of the country's premier centers.
Best of all, Olynyk was a mere afterthought on a Gonzaga team poised for another typically decent season in the WCC. He played a menial role in his first two years on campus, but absolutely exploded on the national stage this past season.
Credit him for all the work he put in, but one can't help but notice how tailor-made this offense was for Olynyk to showcase his entire arsenal. He had two guards in Kevin Pangos and David Stockton who loved to push the pace and find Olynyk in trailer-three situations or beating his man down the floor and diving to the rim. In the halfcourt, Few implemented some innovative sets that got Olynyk the ball in quick hitting pick and pop situations or off clever back picks and cross-screens which resulted in post up opportunities on the low block.
Few's offense is always in flux -- he's one of the more accommodating coaches in college basketball that builds his schemes off the talent he has on the floor -- but one thing has remained static throughout his tenure: great spacing. This, more than anything else, is attributed to Olynyk's ascendancy this season and is the reason why he's routinely found success putting the ball on the deck and attacking the rim.
Kelly Olynyk Draft Combine Interview (via DraftExpress)
Offense: Olynyk is one of the more efficient face-up scoring bigs that's come through the draft process in quite some time. He frequently channels his inner point guard skills by taking his defender off the dribble from the mid-range area, and has excelled as a finisher at the rim - scoring 73 percent of the time, with 63 percent, of his attack coming in the restricted area, per hoop-math. As a pick and roll threat, he struggles setting a good base as he screens off the ball handlers' man and doesn't immediately roll to the rim, often fading a bit to keep the threat of his jumper prevalent, but then making a quick dive to the rim where he shows off his soft hands and fluid mobility.
Once he gets the ball, whether it's off a roll to the rim or a fade, he does an exceptional job stopping on a dime, surveying the floor and using myriad ball fakes and jab steps to get his defender off balanced. While he doesn't establish good position down low, he compensates with his crafty footwork and somewhat unorthodox methods of getting his shots off. He put on a clinic this past season in underhanded scoop shots and the always-aesthetic "up and unders."
Taking a year off and playing for the national team may have been his smartest decision yet. It's done wonders for his awareness on offense, as he's always moving (probably more of a product of Gonzaga's offense, but I digress) and has a knack for making the right cuts. He's worked well as a playmaker from the high post, a passer out of double teams and a reliable outlet thrower to ignite fastbreaks.
However, he's not without his faults either. Despite his impeccable footwork and his multitude of scoring methods, his lack of explosion off his jump and his generally poor resistance to contact doesn't project him to be much of a post-up threat at the next level. He also measured in with just a 6'9 wingspan at the combine, which is by all accounts a red flag. He's not someone that's going to shoot right over you a la Kevin Garnett. While he has toned down the amount of contested 18 footers he was so customarily taking as an underclassman, it does raise questions whether he'll gain enough separation in the NBA to be an effective spot up shooter from the power forward position.
Defense: Few designed his defense to prevent his athletically inferior players from being exploited so easily, especially against non-conference teams. Olynyk in particular, due to his average lateral quickness and overall poor defensive instincts, would commonly vacillate between opposing big men or would stay back in zones. He didn't always show off the high motor that became so ubiquitous with his offense, as he jogged back on a number of occasions, completely hamstringing the Bulldogs already erratic transition defense.
Olynyk is also the target of some terribly futile switches, as was the case in their first loss of the season to Illinois. His poor instincts really catch up to him on screens, where he does a poor job hedging on the ball handler and recovering back to his man on time, often being caught in no man's land. He often shies from contact, which combined with his already flat-footed nature makes for a poor rebounder. He averaged just 7.3 rpg in the WCC, and had just five games where he brought down double digit rebounding totals.
Kelly Olynyk 2013 NBA Draft Scouting Report Video (via DraftExpress)
Pro potential/Wizards fit: On the surface, a big man who's averse to banging down low would lead many to oppose Kelly Olynyk. However, given the right role and under a more fast paced system, I think he would prove to be a strong third or fourth big off an NBA bench. He won't turn into Spencer Hawes if his minutes are monitored, and coaches would get a kick out of all the lineups they may flaunt with Olynyk at their disposal. However, defending stockier bigs and finishing inside will serve as road bumps as he makes the transition.
In hindsight, his strengths go hand in hand with what the Wizards are looking for out of their next big man. All of this is contingent upon who is available and where the Wizards are selecting from should they move back into the first round, but I'd be hesitant in selecting him knowing I can get a more impactful player in that draft range. His defensive shortcomings and rebounding struggles would keep him off the floor a lot as a rookie, which wouldn't give John Wall and Bradley Beal ample time to build a rapport with him. He would lucidly provide the team with an additional scoring option off the bench, but I have my reservations about him as a catch and shoot threat and as a spot-up shooter. He's a terrific pick and pop player that can occasionally work as a roller to the rim, though I'd hold out for more in hopes of strengthening the bench.
One of the main priorities of this team is retooling the bench with two-way players. Gone should be the days of Cartier Martin's aloof defense, Jan Vesely's general ineptness, Kevin Seraphin's black hole nature, and Trevor Booker's dreadful pick and roll defense. For a team fielding two frontcourt players over the age of 30, it's not only logical to bring along young bigs that can learn and develop under them, but they should be capable of taking their place in the lineup in case one goes down with an injury.