Olynyk Torches Magic, Fires Warning Shots

ORLANDO – It didn’t take long for Kelly Olynyk to make Danny Ainge look like a genius.

It was 10 days ago that Ainge traded up three slots in the NBA Draft to select Olynyk with the 13th overall pick. Sunday morning in Orlando, Olynyk was rocking a Celtics jersey in Orlando and setting the nets ablaze.

Kelly Olynyk takes a jump shot

Kelly Olynyk hit nine of his 12 shots during his first summer league game in Orlando.
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images

Don’t let the hair fool you, people. This kid can play. And Ainge knew it all along.

Olynyk wasted no time in making that fact well known at the Orlando Pro Summer League. He torched the hosting team in the league’s second game of the week, posting a game-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting against the Magic.

Olynyk was the talk of the gym Sunday morning. That’s not how things were supposed to play out, seeing as Orlando was showcasing its prized possession in the very same contest.

Victor Oladipo, the No. 2 overall pick out of Indiana, stood tall against Olynyk with his 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Oladipo, however, was never going to reach the 7-footer on this day.

Boston’s top draft pick got to work early to show the Magic that he came to play. His first basket, graciously termed a jump shot by the official scorer, arrived off of an awkward scoop shot along the baseline. That bucket showed off one of Olynyk’s most important skills – the ability to finish a shot even if it’s contested.

His opening basket drew more laughs than genuine attention. Olynyk reversed that quickly with his next basket.

Olynyk took a pass from Darius Johnson-Odom on the right wing and quickly pulled the trigger on a 3-pointer in the face of his opponent. Nothing but net.

A quick peek around the gym yielded the sight of quite a few raised eyebrows. Ainge has raved about Olynyk’s ability to space the floor, particularly from 3-point range. It seems that not many believed him. Sunday’s matchup with the Magic was Olynyk’s first public opportunity to showcase the skill he has been working so diligently on over the past couple of months.

“It (3-point shooting) has been a focus after college and getting ready for the draft and workouts and stuff,” Olynyk said. “It’s such a focus, because it’s such an asset to a team to have that, to have a big that can really stretch the floor and it really opens up driving lanes for guards and makes it tough on defenses. So it’s something that I’m trying to focus on.”

That focus is certainly paying off. Olynyk’s first 3-pointer as a Celtic was a precursor of what was to follow. He would attempt 10 more shots during the game, making seven.

When all was said and done, Olynyk was 9-of-12 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3-point range. Nearly all of his nine makes, regardless of where they were released from his fingers, sank through the net without grazing the rim.

There is only one word that can truly describe Olynyk’s first offensive performance of the week: polished. After talking to Jay Larranaga, who is the Celtics’ head coach during summer league, it’s obvious that the organization believed it was getting a polished player on draft night.

“I think Kelly is very, very skilled,” Larranaga said after Boston fell 95-88 to the Magic. “He can shoot. He can pass. He can dribble.”

He can also score on the block, in the mid-range and from deep. That’s a pretty eclectic skill set for a guy who’s tall enough to play center in the NBA.

The Celtics love Olynyk’s abilities but they want him to showcase them more often. That’s not to say that the big man is inconsistent. Rather, it’s a reference to the fact that Olynyk has yet to develop a shoot-first mentality.

“He’s got to shoot when he’s open,” Larranaga said bluntly. “He had some shots that he turned down and he’s such an unselfish player that we just need to keep encouraging him to shoot when he’s open.”

Asked specifically about Olynyk’s ability to hit 3-pointers, Larranaga again went back to the 7-footer’s unselfish ways.

“Well, when he takes it,” the coach joked. “I think he had some that he turned down. I think he needs to know that we have the utmost confidence in whatever decision he makes, because he’s such a smart basketball player.”

In other words, the Celtics want Olynyk to know that he has the green light. They want him to know that when he takes a shot, the coaching staff will believe that it was a good shot. Developing that mindset will be a challenge, but it’s one that Olynyk embraces.

“It’s tough, because I kind of think I’m an unselfish player at times, sometimes to a fault,” Olynyk said. “They’re telling me to: ‘Shoot the ball when you’re open.’ That kind of stuff; ‘Don’t be worried.’ So I’ve got to really work on that, and hopefully a couple of days here will get me in that mode.”

Uh oh. Warning shots fired.

The unselfish Olynyk showed up on Sunday and made Ainge look like a genius by hanging 25 points on the Magic.

There’s no telling what the selfish Olynyk might wind up doing later this week.