By Jim Allen The Spokesman-Review
All things considered, Kelly Olynyk landed in the right spot in the NBA draft.
The Gonzaga star spent Thursday night with family and friends in Kamloops, British Columbia, while teams dealt players and picks in far-off New York.
Olynyk was among them, being chosen with the 13th pick of the first round by the Dallas Mavericks before being traded to the Boston Celtics for other draft picks. He will fly to Boston this weekend to meet team officials as well as the media.
“It’s a great feeling to see all your hard work and patience and work ethic pay off,” said Olynyk, a 7-foot center whose draft stock rose during a standout season at Gonzaga and a strong performance at the draft combine.
He is expected to be a perimeter scorer and versatile big man, perhaps replacing the aging Kevin Garnett.
To obtain the rights to Olynyk, the Celtics sent Dallas two future second-round selections and the 16th overall pick. The Celtics eventually drafted Brazilian Lucas Nogueira with the 16th pick and traded him and two future second-round picks to Dallas.
For all of that, Olynyk wasn’t even invited to the draft. “I couldn’t have gone on my own, but I’m at home with my family,” he said from Kamloops.
“They’ve always been there for me.”
Olynyk arrived back in British Columbia on Tuesday night after a grueling set of private workouts for all of the teams drafting in spots nine through 14: Minnesota, Portland, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Utah.
He’s also worked out for Boston (16th pick), Chicago (20th) and Atlanta, which had back-to-back picks at 17 and 18.
Throughout the process, Olynyk was praised for his shooting, ability to play in space and a natural feel for the game. He also got high marks for his footwork in the paint and his ability to beat defenders off the dribble.
Olynyk has been criticized for lack of lateral quickness, foot speed and shot-blocking ability at the NBA level.
“Really it was more of a journey than a grind,” the 22-year-old Olynyk said. “The amenities come with it, it’s huge. I’m blessed with the opportunity to chase my dream.
“You can’t take anything for granted.”
Last season, Olynyk averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 63 percent from the field for a Gonzaga team that eventually earned the the program’s first No. 1 national ranking.
The Zags finished 32-3 after losing to Wichita State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“The coaches are phenomenal, with their emphasis on skill work,” Olynyk said. “I can’t thank the coaches and the community of Spokane enough because they’ve been there all the way behind us.”
Olynyk was the only player from area universities to be selected in Thursday’s two-round draft. Others, including Gonzaga’s Elias Harris, Washington State’s Brock Motum and Idaho’s Kyle Barone, may sign free-agent contracts with NBA or other professional teams.