Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani need playing time in order to mature their skills, so why aren't they receiving the necessary minutes to do that? It's time for Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens to make a decision about the direction of the Boston Celtics' season, because these two rookie bigs are seeing their development stunted by spending too much time sitting on the bench.
Bryan Doo, the strength and conditioning coach of the Celtics, spent well over 20 minutes working on agility drills with Olynyk and Faverani before Friday's game against the Thunder. He had them working up a sweat by jumping, striding, twisting, turning, and short sprinting.
Doo even asked them to attempt a cartwheel; it wasn't a pretty sight watching two 7-footers' limbs flying through the air, but Olynyk succeeded, while Faverani struggled to complete even one.
Witnessing those exercises, it's obvious that the Celtics are trying to blossom the athleticism and agility of these two heavy-footed rookies in order to maximize their potential as basketball players.
Faverani has struggled defensively this season because of his slow feet, and the greatest knock on Olynyk coming out of college was his inability to defend the pick-and-roll. Unsurprisingly, the both of them have been exposed there this season because of their lack of experience.
But it has also become clear that the rookie out of Gonzaga needs to speed things up offensively. The things Olynyk did well in college have yet to translate to the NBA.
After working out with Doo, Olynyk spent time learning some savvy moves out of the high post with assistant coach Jay Larranaga. The primary move Larranaga taught was meant to make Olynyk into a "sneaky quick" player.
Larranaga demonstrated how to do the post move: From the left wing, he took two dribbles to the right, turned his back to the basket and paused while continuing his dribble, then he abruptly took two quick dribbles to the right side of the paint before unleashing a hook shot.
Olynyk then tried the move himself, but Larranaga interjected and stressed both the "pause" and the decisiveness required to complete the play. In college, Olynyk didn't really need to use complexities like this to create space on the court -- he was bigger, longer, and stronger than most players -- but in the NBA, he is undersized compared to many bigs.
Practicing is always helpful, but it'll take experience playing against the best players in the world for Olynyk and Faverani to bring their games to the next level.
But here's the problem: How are Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani supposed to do that when they're spending so much time on the bench?
Clearly Brad Stevens is trying to win games by playing the best players, which is why Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries are receiving so many minutes, but the Celtics have only won two out of 14 games in 2014.
Both Brad and Danny have claimed that this is a developmental season, so what's the point of sitting young players on the bench?
Even Ainge admitted that he traded Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Warriors because he wanted Phil Pressey to receive more playing time. In addition, he said, "We still have a lot of bigs...You know, we didn't go into this with a preconceived idea of who is on the bus...We're trying to figure all that out."
Well, Ainge, now's the time to figure who you're leaving behind, and who you're letting on the bus. Kris Humphries and/or Brandon Bass have to be dealt away, unless the Celtics actually see them as a part of their future. The same logic used in his last transaction has to apply to this situation.
Otherwise, they're just stealing away valuable playing time from two rookies in Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani. They both deserve to be playing minutes comparable to second-year big man Jared Sullinger, but they're not even close; Faverani has barely played and Olynyk doesn't play enough against starting units.
Just think about Rajon Rondo's situation coming back from a torn ACL. He could practice every single day with the team, but he won't get back up to speed unless he's playing against NBA talent in competitive games. The same goes for any rookie in the league, since the best way to get better is to actually play.
The Boston Celtics have nine games between now and the trade deadline on February 20th, but the sooner a deal is made, the better things will be for the sake of the future.