With another summer league super star performance, people are quick to jump on the Olynyk bandwagon. This article isn't to say Olynyk is bad or won't be good, however I think people are quick to forget how good Sullinger is.
The 2013 season was a season of putting players in terrible positions. Sullinger was routinely asked to defend guys with 30 pounds and 2-3 inches on him every night. While you can't say he was great, I think he did pretty well given those situations. His defensive numbers were average, but in context you have to understand he was taking the opponents best big/center every night. Olynyk on the other hand had the more luxurious position of guarding 4s and again, did a decent job. His lack of length was noticeable a lot of the time, but his rotations were passable. To be fair, it's important to note that rookies have a steep learning curve for NBA defense given the speed and size of the game.
Sullinger is a capable passer, probably on the above average side of the scale for big men. However Olynyk is absolutely elite in this regard. He grew up playing point guard and it's incredibly obvious any time you see him play. Olynyk is also clearly more fleet of foot and has an elite handle for a big. At 7'0 to have his passing and ball handling abilities is rather insane. Combined that with a very high basketball IQ, and this one is obvious.
Sullingers biggest strength is rebounding. He's going to average double digit rebounds for the majority of his career. He's shown an innate ability to understand angles and timing. He grabs boards despite his size disadvantage, much in line with what Barkley did. Olynyk was much maligned coming out of college for his rebounding and lack of length. He'll never be a great rebounder, or even really a good one. His numbers will probably never accurately reflect his ability because he'll be a perimeter shooter, but it's clear who the winner is in this category
Sullinger struggled last year developing his 3 point shot. He has the stroke and ability to become a capable 3 point shooter for a big, but he'll likely never be the shooter Olynyk can be. Olynyk shot a ridiculous 51% from the field and 43% from three post all star break. Just like rebounding, it's pretty obvious who wins
Olynyk has a good face up post game that I think will be a strength we'll see more of in the future. He has the tendency to pump fake far too much instead of just taking his shot, I think Stevens and the coaches will work on and develop. Sullinger has more strength in the low post and is able to bully his way into layups. He has a great finishing touch with both left and right hands and last season showed off a developing fadaway jumper that worked pretty well. While I think Olynyks shooting ability and ability to drive off the dribble will be an asset, I'll take the guy who can get himself layups more consistently
Neither Olynyk nor Sullinger have great physical tools. Sullinger is a bit undersized, even for a PF. Olynyk on the other hand has very short arms for his height. Neither are particularly athletic, and both get by on smarts, positioning, and hard work. Sullingers is 3 inches shorter, but stronger, and had a 29.5 no step vert (KO- 24.5) and max vert of 31.0 (KO-29.5). This was even weighing in at 34 pounds heavier than KO, most likely due to recovering from his back injury. Sullinger was touted as a possible #1 overall pick for a reason.
Sullinger has the ability to be an all star player. I don't know if 20 points a game is realistic, but he'll get 4-6 points a game on putbacks, and potentially 8-12 on pick and rolls, post plays, open jumpers and transition buckets. Despite our desire to hope he'll become Love, he'll never become a go to scorer. When Sullinger isn't asked to guard the Howards, Cousins, and other dominant centers of the NBA where he gives up length, height, and weight, I think Sullinger could thrive. He seems to be going into this season thinking of playing the four with him stating in interviews he's slimming down (and numerous complaints of his fathers about having to play overweight to keep up with centers). His offensive game just isn't good enough to consistently go through, much like Jeff Green. However I think he'll give you 9-13 rebounds every night with the occasional 20 rebound outburst. His ability to shoot and get you easy buckets will help but defensively he'll cap out at Glen Davis - smart player who makes right rotations and isn't a massive liability in the post because of his strength and hustle. I think overall he will be a 16-11 player.
Olynyk will always have a place in the NBA due to his shooting. He'll never be a good defensive player or rebounder, but I think it's possibly he averages 7 rebounds a game while giving you elite shooting. Ainge infamously stated he projected Olynyk as a sixth man off the bench. Perhaps with his new look slimmed down body he'll move faster on rotations and last season the coaching staff worked hard on his athleticism so potentially he becomes better at changing shots around the rim but I doubt that happens. Olynyk has noticeably slimmed down this offseason, probably thinking to take advantage of his speed and ball handling and perimeter shooting better which I think is smart. He'll never be a banger down low and maximizing his strengths is smart. I think Ryan Anderson is a fair expectation. 15-20 PPG with 5-7 rebounds with 40% 3 point shooting. I think Olynyk could be a more versatile scorer and is already a much better passer but that's about as close as it gets.
So who do you think will be a better player?