While the Milwaukee Bucks will be in need of help in the back-court with Jennings and Ellis potentially leaving for free agency, that doesn’t mean that the team will have to fill that hole in the draft. Yes, there are viable options at guard for Milwaukee to look at with the #15 pick but there’s also the possibility that the best player available will be a front-court player — a spot already manned on the Bucks’ roster by the likes of Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson. One of those top prospects is Kelly Olynyk, a long-haired, 7’0″ Canadian from Gonzaga.
Olynyk probably ranks up there as one of the better front-court prospects in this draft after spending the last four years working on his craft in the Gonzaga system (red-shirted in the 2011-12 season). Now, while most players get red-shirted in the freshman year so they can easily transition to the college game but Olynyk took a completely different path — redshirting as an upperclassman — so he could hone his skills for a year while waiting for future Lakers center Robert Sacre to graduate.
That time off helped him out immensely because he went from a solid backup to a draft prospect who has one of the more polished post games out there. While he doesn’t have a specific go-to move that he uses on a consistent basis, Olynyk combines a muscular 235-pound frame with a soft touch around the basket which makes him a viable threat every time he posts up. However, he matches his ability around the basket with an extremely versatile offensive game that kind of reminds me of Ilyasova. While Olynyk doesn’t quite have the outside game that Ersan has, he’s still a solid pick-and-roll threat because of his mobility and mid-range touch. The thing I’m excited about when it comes to Olynyk is how efficient he was last season (63.1 FG%) which is fantastic to see from a player who spends a good amount of time away from the basket.
A few downsides when it comes to Olynyk include his tenacity rebounding and his tendency to turn the ball over when he’s cutting to the rim. While a recent tweet by Draft Express (see below) would tell you that he’s a solid ball handler, he had more turnovers per 40 minutes than the likes of Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum and Ben McLemore who are some of the better guard prospects in this draft. The real problem with that is the fact that the Bucks are probably going to be a team that’s more centered around their post-players so the paint might be a little too crowded which would put a hinderance on Olynyk’s ability to drive to the rim.
Rebounding-wise, Olynyk put up relatively solid numbers (11.1 rebounds per 40 minutes) but he doesn’t have the explosiveness to dig deep and go outside the area to grab the rebound. While that is an issue, the Bucks already possess solid rebounders like Henson, Sanders, and Ilyasova, so Kelly can work in his own little comfort zone.
My one big issue with Kelly Olynyk is his struggles on the defensive side of the ball. As you see in the above tweet, Kelly Olynyk is one of the rare players whose wingspan is smaller than his height. That means that he’ll have to work harder in the low post to either disrupt or block his opponents shot, a skill that Olynyk lacked in his time with Gonzaga. Another flaw is that he lacks overall defensive awareness, but that should improve with the help of a defensive stopper like Sanders.
Overall, I really like Kelly Olynyk as a draft prospect because of his vast skills as an offensive player. While he doesn’t fit a specific need for Milwaukee, he would still be a useful player because of the fact that he would probably the best pick-and-roll option on the team. The defensive issues do scare me but that could change when he’s playing besides Larry Sanders or gets accustomed to his role on the team. While I would like the team to take a wing player, I wouldn’t be upset if the Bucks did draft Kelly Olynyk with the #15 pick.