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“KO” Kelly Olynyk, A Summer League All-Star

It didn’t take long for Canadian rookie sensation Kelly Olynyk to earn the nickname “KO” from the NBA TV commentators who are doing everything in their power to make the NBA Orlando Summer League games at least sound exciting. These games can be somewhat painful to watch and Olynyk has almost made watching the Celtics squad worthwhile. Celtics forward Jeff Green wanted to call the seven-footer “Sunshine” after the quarterback in “Remember the Titans” according to Jay King at MassLive.com, but the knock out implications of KO more closely reflect how the big man has played.

The 22-year-old redshirted his junior season at Gonzaga to return for a breakout campaign last year. The seven-footer dominated with 17.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 1.1 blocks in just 26 minutes for the Bulldogs. Apparently, Orlando isn’t providing that much more of a challenge.

KO has been a force on the Summer League floor, confusing defenders with his ability to equally hit the three-point bomb, take the jump shot, dribble and dive for the up and under and otherwise thrive in the painted area. Over his first three games, he has averaged 19.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 25.5 minutes. It has looked all too easy for the big man. He has shot 57.5 percent from the field, 42.8 percent from three-point range and has converted on 10 of 12 free throw attempts. Just about everything has been going right so far. He is even a plus 32 for what can be loosely called a tournament.

Olynyk was taken 13th overall by the Dallas Mavericks two weeks ago and traded to Boston on draft night for the rights to the 16th pick, Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira and two future second round draft picks. Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is looking pretty good right about now.

Summer League doesn’t tell you who can play in NBA, but almost certainly can tell you who isn’t ready. So far, KO Olynyk has passed the first test. The Celtics have a very exciting young big man to develop next season.


Stephen Brotherston has covered the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre since 2009. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.