Kelly Olynyk has undergone many metamorphoses over his basketball playing career. He played point guard for most of his time in high school, until a seven inch growth spurt forced him into a new position. His first two years at Gonzaga saw him float around the perimeter. Then, a junior year spent on the bench and in the weight room brought bowties, bulk and another growth spurt (but this time it was his hair that did the growing).
He went from a jump shooting big man to an unstoppable force in the post. Formerly unknown outside of Spokane, these transformations led Olynyk to national fame and the NBA Draft.
School: Gonzaga (Spokane, WA | West Coast Conference)
Hometown: Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
Weight: 238 lbs
Accolades: Consensus All-American, WCC Player of the Year, WCC All-Tournament Team.
Team Record: 84-20
By now you're probably aware of the story behind Olynyk's most recent and notable transformation. If not, here it is in brief.
Unhappy with his role on the team and his general lack of minutes, Olynyk contemplated transferring. Gonzaga's coaching staff convinced Olynyk to stay and redshirt, since he would have to sit out a year if he transferred. During his year off Olynyk took up wearing bowties and holding a clipboard on the bench during games. He also spent a lot of time working out with Gonzaga's strength coach, adding muscle and improving his coordination. A seven inch growth spurt can really mess with a guy's feel for his movements.
What he learned on the bench and in the weight room resulted in one of the most out of the blue all-America campaigns in recent memory.
Final Season Averages:
17.8 pts... 1.7 asts... 7.3 rebs... 0.7 steals... 1.1 blocks... 2.2 turnovers... 26.4 mins... 62.9% FG... 30.0% 3 PT... 77.6% FT
Every season Gonzaga boasts one of the nation's most efficient offenses. The past ten seasons have seen the Zags in the top-50 of KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency rankings. This season, Kelly Olynyk was a huge reason why the Zags ranked third on that list. Olynyk used more of the Zags' possessions than any other player and posted great numbers with the heavy workload.
Olynyk was exceptionally efficient on the offensive end of the floor this past season. He managed to use more possessions than any other Zag while seeing only 26.4 minutes per contest. To put up 17.8 points in that time a player must be a highly efficient scorer and Olynyk was just that. 62.9% shooting from the field is great, but for a big man it's not out of the ordinary. What makes it so impressive in Olynyk's case is that he was taking shots from all over the court, not just getting the lay ins and dunks that allow bigs to post such high field goal percentages.
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
Olynyk is incredibly versatile. The strength he added while redshirting allowed him to develop the deep post game that a 7' NBA big needs, but he managed to maintain the quickness and shooting touch from his high school point guard days. This newfound combination of strength, size and speed allows Olynyk to score from the rim out to the three point line. He can use his strength to establish position in the post and finish around the rim. His speed allows him to start outside the paint and drive to the basket. His size allows him to operate on the wings and shoot over smaller defenders.
His shooting touch doesn't disappear at the free throw line. Bigs that can get to the line, which Olynyk can as he drew 6.3 fouls per forty minutes this past year, and convert are hard to come by. Much like Gonzaga's contribution to last year's NBA Draft, Robert Sacre, Olynyk's stock benefits greatly from his ability to take advantage of teams from the free throw line.
Olynyk threw down a number of impressive dunks this past season, but that is not his forte. He isn't athletic enough to get up and dunk on a lot of his post possessions. He makes up for this with a deft touch around the rim. Olynyk has great hands and coordination for a big which allows him to finish with lay ins and finger rolls.
A lack of athleticism, masked on the offensive end due to his polished game, becomes evident on defense. Olynyk is a sub-par shot blocker for a big man, averaging just 1.1 blocks per game as a junior. He had a hard enough time defending the rim against WCC bigs (which, other than his Gonzaga teammates and Brandon Davies, shouldn't be too difficult) so defending NBA bigs could be a very ugly sight for those watching Olynyk play as a rookie.
He pulled down 7.3 rebounds per game this past season, which is pretty solid. But, as I just mentioned, the lack of solid big men in the WCC makes that number look less impressive than it does standing alone. Against the exceptional athletes in the NBA don't expect Olynyk to win a lot of battles on the boards.
Current Prospect Rankings:
Chad Ford (ESPN): No. 18 (No. 3 at position)
ESPN's Chad Ford said of Olynyk, in the most recent update of his player profile on ESPN's DraftTracker, "Olynyk has one of the widest ranges of anyone in the draft. Why? His game is unique." In Mr. Ford's first mock draft of the year, Olynyk went 15th to Boston. In the most recent, he rose to 12th and Oklahoma City.