Olynyk excited to take part in Rising Stars Challenge

Olynyk excited to take part in Rising Stars Challenge
February 13, 2014, 4:45 pm
Share This Post
(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON — Kelly Olynyk didn't know what all the fuss was about.

The Celtics were in New York preparing to play the New York Knicks on Jan. 28, with the NFL's Super Bowl in E. Rutherford, N.J. between Seattle and Denver, less than a week away.

"They were telling us on the way in, there's so much Super Bowl traffic," Olynyk recalled which prompted him to respond, "'Wait, the game's not for another (five) days!'"

The Canadian big man saw first-hand how big a deal that was, which has made him even more prepared and excited about this weekend in New Orleans where he will be a member of the NBA's Rising Stars Challenge game on Friday.

Olynyk will be joined by Celtics teammate Jared Sullinger on the "Team (Chris) Webber" squad.

"It'll be fun," said Olynyk who added, "especially having Sully there."

Sullinger has been a starter for the Celtics most of this season, so his selection did not come as a surprise. But Olynyk's inclusion was not expected -- certainly not by Olynyk.

While he has put up decent numbers as a rookie (6.9 points, 4.7 rebounds per game), he also missed three weeks with an ankle injury that as it turned out, was not as big a hindrance to him being selected as one might imagine.

"I thought that would definitely hurt my chances," Olynyk said of his sprained ankle injury. "Somehow or someone, thought I was doing a good job."

Olynyk has been doing just that of late, tallying back-to-back double-doubles scoring and rebounding for the first time in his career.

Sullinger believes that Olynyk will not only play well, but he'll be the game's MVP.

"The past two games, the way he's been playing ... confidence means everything in the world in basketball," Sullinger said. "And so the way he has been playing, I don't see nobody stopping him down there."

Olynyk is still a work in progress, but the game is starting to slow down for him.

"Stuff is starting to open up," said Olynyk. "It's not so fast paced or hectic. It's starting to slow down, easier to see what's open and to see what the defense is giving you. After being here a while, you realize that people are just stunting or doing little things to give the impression they're there. You start to recognize that stuff."

But by no means has he gotten to a point where he or the Celtics are satisfied.

"He's going to have more ups and downs this year," Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com. "So is Jared, so is Avery (Bradley). That's sort of the nature of the game. Even great players, stars have their ups and downs. We're happy where they are and how they are progressing."