The Boston Celtics faced off against the Orlando Magic to open up their first of five games in the 2013 Summer League. Even though the Celtics lost 95 to 88, there are a lot of positive signs to come from this game. Kelly Olynyk was the obvious star, scoring 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, to go along with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 5 turnovers. For the Magic, a lot of their second year players got time on the court, but the second pick in the draft, Victor Oladipo stood out amongst the crowd, with 18 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals.
"Kelly Olynyk is the next..."
No -- he's not the next Dirk Nowitzki -- it was just one summer league game. Let's not jump the gun just yet. However, Kelly was fantastic today. The power forward out of Gonzaga showed off everything I had expected him to on the offensive end and more. It's only one game but he showed terrific form on his three-point shot in a number of different situations. Whether it was a spot-up shot, or something a bit off balance, he took his shot with confidence.
Olynyk was very good on the post too. The only word to describe his game offensively is "polished." Olynyk just looks like a well-seasoned player out there. He had a myriad of different post moves including a hook shot, a two-dribble drop step, and a nice turn-around jumper. He also made a beautiful bounce pass to Tony Mitchell on a backdoor cut.
Defensively, well, my concerns came to life today. Olynyk looked pretty good on the post. He took some hard shots to the chest from Andrew Nicholson but played strong. The issue is when his opponent faces up or is out on the perimeter. Olynyk struggled anytime he was stretched since he can't move well side-to-side. Early in the fourth quarter Romero Osby made a very simple crossover move and made Olynyk look terrible. He must improve here if he's going to defend stretch forwards in the NBA.
Overall, Kelly Olynyk was the star today. The stats don't lie: 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting was as good as it looks. He's a polished player and should continue to improve.
Fab Melo has improved
I'll be the first to admit that I hated when Fab Melo was drafted this past season but I can't deny the fact that he has improved his game a little bit. He's still clunky and robotic with a lot of his movements but he was active on the defensive end. He moves a lot better side-to-side than he did last season and he has more active hands. Even though he only had one block, he disturbed a couple of other shots throughout the game.
My biggest gripe with Fab is the fact that he's a big, strong 7-footer but doesn't play like it. Whenever he gets the ball down low he doesn't finish strong. If he does finish, it's with a layup, and if he doesn't...well it's usually a blocked shot or a turnover. He needs to be taught how to be decisive with his movements and just go up strong for a dunk. If he does that, he'll be able to consistently draw fouls or and-ones. On the bright side, Fab showed off his nice hook shot that I wrote about in my summer league preview. He hit both of his attempts, one from about two-feet and another from 14-feet.
"Wild Phil" Pressey
4 assists...5 turnovers. 2 steals...3 fouls. Phil Pressey, a point guard from Missouri, was one of the more interesting players to watch today. For all the good things Pressey brings to the floor -- energy, speed, and aggressiveness -- he brings sloppiness, craziness, and wildness. Phil Pressey is a pretty wild basketball player -- for better or for worse.
In the first half Pressey had some pretty horrible possessions. You could pin it on a lack of chemistry with his teammates but I don't believe that's an excuse for some of his mistakes. Pressey passed a few balls that sailed far over his teammates heads or by leaving his feet, putting him in terrible position for a pass.
Then again, his speed and energy ignited some really nice possessions for the Celtics. Going forward, I'd keep an eye on him. He seriously needs to settle down and play a bit more slowly. It's almost as if he plays with the dial set to 10 and no less. Pressey needs to learn how to play at different speeds and play with his teammates.
I thought Pressey's defensive was very good today. He made things difficult for Victor Oladipo and looked like he had good awareness playing off-ball. I don't want to harp on him too much but he was very intriguing today. Keep an eye on him this week.
Quiet Tony Mitchell
Tony Mitchell was the Rookie of the Year in the Developmental League because he was able to create his own shot and get to the basket with ease. I expected him to be one of those "summer league All Stars" but he was nothing but that tonight. Instead he took on the role of a complimentary player and I was fairly impressed. He hit two shots from the corner-three but also had a few nice shots from mid-range. I thought he moved well without the ball, including a gorgeous backdoor cut that ended in a loud slam.
All of this is pretty encouraging because my initial thoughts were that he is a guy that can only score if he has the ball in his hands. Instead, his teammates created most of his opportunities and he still had success. Look for Mitchell to get his hand on the ball more in the next few games.
AAU men's basketball is all about the guards...so is the NBA Summer League. Last season, the Boston Celtics had Dionte Christmas and he fit that mold. He managed to have a lot of success, which was nice, but this year the Celtics have Nolan Smith and Darius Johnson-Odom playing that role. "DJO" looked terrible today. He shot 1-for-8 from the floor and most of his shots were just absolutely terrible attempts. Even though his only shot at making this roster as at the point guard position, he didn't look for his teammates and instead forced his shot. I wasn't impressed at all.
On the other hand, Nolan Smith looked pretty solid. He only played five minutes before exiting the game with an injury, but he took some quality shots and was 2-for-3 from the floor. Unfortunately for Smith, it appears that he has a slight tear below his calf and he'll be out for the rest of the summer league. I just wish the guards would play more of in a facilitator type of role. The Summer League is marred by guards that make terrible plays for themselves and very few good plays for their teammates, just like in the AAU.
-Courtney Fells, a 6'8" forward, was one of the most athletic players out there today. He had two blocked shots and showed incredible energy. He was 0-for-3 from there-point range but I'd like to see him more with the ball in his hands so we can see what he can do.
-Colton Iverson, the C's second round draft pick, looked like a very good role player this morning. He played strong post defense and was active in the passing lanes. Colton had two offensive rebounds and showed off good passing instincts after one of them, quickly getting the ball back to the perimeter. He boxes out and always seems to be hustling.
-Jayson Granger was fairly impressive to me. He's a 6'2" guard out of Europe and looked the part of a true point guard. He was a pretty good ball handler and an even better passer. He ended up with four assists to three turnovers, but they weren't "bad" turnovers, in my opinion. He shot only 1-for-6 from the floor but was better than the statistics show.
-Victor Oladipo is everything I thought he was defensively. He made things very difficult for all the guards on Boston with three impressive steals in the first five minutes. He struggled playing the point guard position but otherwise was very effective.
Game Two vs. Detroit: Monday, 3 PM EST
Game Three vs. Indiana: Tuesday, 11 AM EST
Game Four vs. Houston: Wednesday, 3 PM EST
Game Five: Friday, Time/Opponent TBD