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Kelly Olynyk Impresses Celtics at Orlando Summer League

Christian Watford, Kelly Olynyk (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The Orlando Summer League came to a close on Friday, with the Oklahoma City Thunder winning the first-place game on “championship day.” The Celtics finished in seventh place with a 3-2 record after defeating the host Magic, 102-83. The best takeaway from Summer League was the play of first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk, who finished second among all participants with 18 points per game, behind the Thunder’s Reggie Jackson.

Olynyk showed good offensive moves in the low post and tremendous ball-handling skills for a seven-footer. He also displayed an impressive shooting touch, going 3-for-6 from beyond the arc in the first two games before cooling down the rest of the week. Olynyk also shot 13-for-19 from the free throw line, including a perfect 7-for-7 in the first two contests. Olynyk was better on the defensive end than his reputation suggested, and averaged 7.8 rebounds per game (fourth in the league) and 1.8 steals. Olynyk led the Celtics in scoring in three of their five games, and had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday’s loss to the Rockets.

Iverson, Melo struggle to distinguish themselves

The other bigs from the Celtics’ active roster had mixed results. Second-round pick Colton Iverson averaged 5.4 rebounds but showed little offensive power, shooting just 13 field goals in the entire tournament. Second-year center Fab Melo, who could be facing a make-or-break season in 2013-14, was also disappointing. While little is expected of him offensively, he needs to become a true defensive stopper if he wants a place in the NBA. Melo started impressively, pulling down 8 boards in the first game, but he had just 9 over the course of the next four. He ended up averaging 6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.

Mitchell, Pressey display their skills

Besides Olynyk, Boston’s best players were two undrafted free agents, Tony Mitchell and Phil Pressey, and NBA veteran Darius Johnson-Odom. Mitchell, a former Alabama small forward, scored 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting on Friday, bringing his tournament average to 11.2 per game. He also recorded 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals.

Pressey, a point guard out of Missouri, displayed all the court vision and defensive ability that made him a college standout. He finished fifth in the league with 6.6 assists per game, including 10 in each of the last two. Pressey tied for sixth in the league is steals with two per contest to go with his 9.4 points. Johnson-Odom, a second-year shooting guard who played for the L.A. Lakers last season, scored 22 points against the Pistons and finished with 10.3 per game.

Reading too much into Summer League play is always dangerous, but we can draw a few conclusions from the past week. Given the state of the Celtics’ roster, Olynyk is looking more and more like a starter. Whether he’ll be able to hold his own for the duration of an NBA season remains to be seen, but his skill is undeniable. Both Iverson and Melo could also benefit from a lack of competition at the center position, but there are serious concerns about their ability to get the job done in the NBA. For his part Pressey, who will reportedly be with the team for training camp, was impressive enough to put himself in the running for the backup point guard job.

Celtics Orlando Summer League Scores

7/7 vs. ORL, L 88-95

7/8 vs. DET, W 93-63

7/9 vs. IND, W 76-74

7/10 vs. HOU, L 78-85

7/12 vs. ORL, W 102-83

About Nick García - @N_A_Garcia

Nick is the Celtics and college sports editor at Sports of Boston. He writes about basketball, football and anything else that comes his way. Follow him on Twitter @N_A_Garcia

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