Celtics-Pistons preview: Olynyk's ability to shoot presents challenge for centers


BOSTON – Kelly Olynyk is a hard guy to figure out.

His numbers defensively rank among the best on the Boston Celtics roster.

And yet, far too often you’ll find teams going at him – A LOT – in the post and to be candid, have found a decent amount of success.

 “You just have to keep playing,” Olynyk told reporters after beating Milwaukee 112-108 in overtime on Saturday. “There are some really, really good players in this league. You just have to make it as tough as possible.”

That has to be Boston’s mindset heading into tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons who are led by Andre Drummond who ranks among the league’s top centers.

Drummond, who at some point will likely be guarded by Olynyk, is averaging a double-double of 14.3 points and 13.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game – all down from a year ago when he was an All-Star but still impressive.

Even with a dip in production, Drummond is more than capable of causing major problems for Olynyk and the Celtics.

A career 13.4 points per game scorer, the former UConn star has averaged 16.8 points and 14.3 rebounds in 16 games against the Celtics.

But as much as Olynyk has trouble at times with bigger players in the post, he presents a major challenge for defenses because of his ability to stretch the floor.

The 7-footer already ranks among the top-4 all-time 3-point shooters who are at least 7 -feet tall, Olynyk is connecting on 36.8 percent of his 3’s this season which is down slightly from last year when he shot 40.5 percent from 3-point range.

Still, half the battle to become an elite 3-point shooter is being a threat that defenses have to pay attention to, which is where Olynyk is in the eyes of NBA teams as well as league executives.

“Like any player in this league, he’s got his flaws,” a veteran NBA scout told CSNNE.com. “But he’s 7-feet tall and he can shoot the ball as good as anyone in this league.”

And as far as his defense in the post is concerned, the scout said that’s not something other teams – and certainly not the Celtics – are all that concerned about.

“Like I said, he’s got warts just like every player in this league,” the scout said. “But he’s a smart player, is usually where he’s supposed to be on defense and it’s not like he’s out there to lock people up.”

Olynyk’s defensive rating this season is 102.9 which is tops among all Celtics who play at least 20 minutes per game.

And in the win over the Bucks, his defensive rating was 87.3 which was second only to Marcus Smart (80.8) among Celtics who played more than 20 minutes.

So with the way he shoots the ball while consistently being in the right place most of the time defensively, Olynyk will continue to get opportunities to contribute.

“I’ve had lots of opportunities out there,” Olynyk said. “When they come you have to take them.”

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