Celtics, for the last time: Kelly Olynyk
|10.29.13 at 9:21 am ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time ‘¦ ?” First up: Kelly Olynyk.
When’s the last time a middle-of-the-pack draft pick won NBA Rookie of the Year honors?
Overshadowed by their draft night agreement to send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, the Celtics traded up to grab Kelly Olynyk in the No. 13 spot this past June, and the 7-footer has already been dubbed “the steal of the draft” in NBA.com’s annual survey of the league’s general managers.
Demonstrating an ability to run the floor and score both inside and out, Olynyk averaged 9.0 points (52.5 FG%), 4.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists during the preseason. But his defense isn’t quite so NBA ready. Quality bigs gave him the revolving door treatment, and his six personal fouls per 36 minutes is cause for concern.
Still, the lack of top-end talent in this year’s draft class combined with Olynyk’s early returns thrust the Gonzaga product onto a short list of potential Rookie of the Year candidates that includes heavy favorite Victor Oladipo.
Of the 64 players ever named NBA Rookie of the Year, only four were drafted in the double digits. The last to do so was Mark Jackson, who captured the award in 1987-88 when the Knicks selected him 18th. The others: Jamaal Wilkes (1974-75: Golden State Warriors, 11th), Woody Sauldsberry (1957-58: Philadelphia Warriors, 60th) and Don Meineke (1052-53: Fort Wayne Pistons, 12th). Amare Stoudemire, drafted ninth by the Suns in 2002-03, is the lowest draft pick of the 21st century to earn ROY. So, the next time you think about placing Olynyk in the NBA Rookie of the Year conversation, remember he’d have to be a real Woody Sauldsberry to do so.
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