Houston Rockets re-signing Kelly Olynyk Con #2: His defense is suspect
Throughout Kelly Olynyk’s eight-season career he has started 155 of the 560 games he has played in, with 52 of those starts coming in this season alone. For a player as offensively gifted as Olynyk is, it is shocking how infrequently he has been able to crack a starting rotation.
The primary reason for Olynyk’s long track record as a bench piece has been his lackluster defense. He is neither a good rim protector nor defensive rebounder and that simply won’t cut it as a frontcourt player.
While the Rockets’ offense has been a dumpster fire, their defense, after a very promising start, has fallen off a cliff in the second half of the season. Olynyk’s defensive rating of 112 points allowed per 100 possessions with the Rockets would be the worst full-season mark of his career and highlights his limitations as a starter.
When asked to defend a team’s strongest offensive unit Olynyk struggles to contain his man and cover-up for others’ mistakes. His defense is adequate when facing off against a team’s second unit but re-signing him long term will necessitate the Rockets picking up another legitimate center.
Committing to a player like Olynyk long-term means you’re going to have to build around his limitations on defense. The Rockets have some great perimeter stoppers in Jae’Sean Tate and David Nwaba to help ease the burden but those two should be in vying for minutes in the starting rotation.
Olynyk is an offensive talent but his scoring ability is not so great that you can simply live with his paltry defense. In the end, the Rockets might prioritize scoring over stopping after the season they’ve had but a loss is a loss, no matter how many points you score.
Next: Pro #1