Olynyk Brings Experience, Intelligence To Jazz Roster

Sep 27, 2022, 3:36 PM | Updated: Sep 29, 2022, 2:59 pm
Utah Jazz center Kelly Olynyk as a member of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Kelly Olynyk didn’t have much time to prepare for the start of the 2022-23 season with the Utah Jazz.

The ten-year NBA vet was officially traded to the Jazz on Monday night, and made his first appearance with the roster on Tuesday during day one of training camp.

Olynyk, along with guard Saben Lee, was acquired from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic last Thursday and arrived in Salt Lake City on Sunday to start preparing for the new season.

“We’ve been welcomed every which way,” Olynyk said. “They’ve been awesome this organization, everybody I’ve come into contact with so far has been super helpful and super willing to help in any form.”

Kelly Olynyk joined Hans and Scotty G on The KSL Sports Zone, listen to the full interview below

Olynyk Joins Inexperienced Jazz Center Group

Olynyk’s experience, teamed with a young group of big men on the roster around him, makes the veteran the odds-on favorite to start the season at center.

Last season the Gonzaga product started just one game for the Pistons at center but was a regular starter in his two previous stops in Houston and Miami.

A knee injury sidelined Olynyk for more than two months early in the Pistons season, and when he returned, the majority of the frontcourt minutes were going to second-year center Isaiah Stewart.

Prior to the injury, Olynyk had played the best basketball of his career between Miami and Houston.

“I was leaned on to do a lot of different things and I think I did a good job of stepping up to the plate and delivering for Houston,” Olynyk said. “I was kind of the guy they were looking to to get things moving offensively.”

The big man averaged 19.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 27 appearances for the Rockets before signing with the Pistons in the summer of 2021.

Olynyk won’t be asked to carry the same load in Utah that he did two seasons ago in Houston but should get more opportunities than he did in Detroit.

“You’ve got to come in and be yourself, play hard, help this team win any way you can,” Olynyk said. “Versatility, whatever it is. I am sure that will mold into a more concrete thing as training camp, preseason, and the season goes along.”

Cody Zeller was signed to a camp invite by the Jazz shortly before they traded for Olynyk, but a roster crunch could make it difficult to find a spot on the team by opening night.

Walker Kessler was a key piece in the Rudy Gobert blockbuster this offseason, but as a rookie, his minutes may be limited to begin his career.

Third-year center Udoka Azubuike is also on the roster, but he’s yet to be fully cleared from an ankle injury he suffered last season.

As a result, Olynyk might be the face Jazz fans should expect to see a lot of in the coming weeks.

“Kelly’s a really versatile player, he’s obviously been around the NBA for a while so he has a lot of corporate knowledge with how to play in the NBA,” coach Will Hardy said. “He’s a really smart, skilled basketball player, he can play in a couple of different positions on the floor. He just provides a lot of intelligence.”

Olynyk and the Jazz will open the preseason on Sunday in Edmonton against the Toronto Raptors.

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