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The Read & React: the return of Kelly Olynyk

Another blowout where the Celtics looked lifeless on the boards and on defense.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Kelly Olynyk effect (Bill Sy): He’s baaaaaaack. Maybe not all the way and maybe that’s a little dramatic, but KO is back. It wasn’t an earth shattering performance from the big fella (two points on 1-of-6 shooting, 6 rebounds, and an assist), but you can see signs of what Olynyk brings to the Celtics. That’s why he was only second to Isaiah Thomas in plus-minus (3.2) and first in NetRtg (5.2) last season.

His 40% shooting behind the arc last season is at the top of his resume, but there are so many little things that the Celtics’ best background actor does that go unnoticed.

This series is a microcosm of Olynyk’s game. He doesn’t rack up defensive counting stats like blocks and steals, but he’s usually in the right position defensively and his seven foot frame is enough to force a bad shot. He stays in front of the ultra-quick John Wall, retreats and rotates to a cutting Otto Porter, and gets back to Marcin Gortat and contests his shot. On the offensive end, he forces Marcus Thornton to respect his three pointer, puts the ball on the floor like a point guard, and drives and up fakes Jason Smith. He blows the layup, but that sequence shows the versatility that he brings to the floor.

The defensive end has been a struggle for Boston this season. They’re now last in the league in DefRtg after finishing sixth last year. Sure, the Celtics miss Jae Crowder and Al Horford, but Olynyk’s IQ should help going forward. Of the rotation players last year, Olynyk lead the team with a 97.7 DefRtg. He doesn’t wag his finger like Mutombo or fit like a Glove, but KO is very good at reading offenses and protecting space.

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