Many people questioned general manager Troy Weaver’s decision to package starting center Mason Plumlee and the 37th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft for the Hornets’ 57th overall selection. Looking back now, it was done to create cap space for Kelly Olynyk. Weaver inked Olynyk to a three-year, $37 million contract. The 30-year old veteran is set to replace Plumlee at the center position, ultimately replacing some, if not all, of the minutes that were opened by when Plumlee was traded.
With the Pistons immersed into a rebuild with an incredibly young core, Olynyk joins this team as a veteran who provides a unique fit with the team. Olynyk had one of the best seasons of his career last year. He played most of the season with the Miami Heat, before being traded to the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline. Through 43 games in a Heat uniform, the 6’11 center averaged 10 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. However, things began to heat up for Olynyk after his arrival in Houston. Through 27 games as a Rocket, the combo big averaged 19 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. Olynyk makes his presence felt behind the 3-point arc, too. He shot 34% from three-point land last season. He has shot nearly 37% from the three-point line throughout his career. The ability to make shots behind the 3-point line was something Dwayne Casey’s team lacked last season, so the addition of Olynyk helps in that regard. Many Pistons fans were upset with Olynyk’s contract, but it is certainly an upgrade from Mason Plumlee, who struggled shooting the ball. It was reported that the deal was a 2 + 1, meaning the third year is a team option with only $3 million guaranteed.
Olynyk is an asset on the offensive side of the ball, but he could use some work on the defensive side. His limitations on defense include his foot speed and his lateral quickness. With that being said, Olynyk averaged 5.6 defensive rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game last season. Now, defensive rebounds aren’t typically considered to be a true defensive metric, however, this is something Olynyk can work on.
Olynyk will serve as a solid backup center behind Isiah Stewart, a 2nd team all-rookie selection. Expect to see him get minutes at both the four and the five positions. Olynyk averaged 28.5 minutes per game last season with two different teams (26.9 with the Miami Heat and 31.1 with the Houston Rockets). Anything between these two figures would make sense for him here in Detroit.
The signing of Kelly Olynyk should be considered a good move by Pistons fans. Olynyk brings something that the Detroit Pistons lacked last season: 3-point shooting. It can be argued that he struggles defensively, but his offensive repertoire makes up for that. Simply put, he can put the ball in the basket. Expect to see Olynyk make a positive impact on the young Pistons’ core.
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