Kelly Olynyk could be a realistic Sixth Man of the Year for the Utah Jazz

Maybe trading Kelly Olynyk isn’t the best idea for the Utah Jazz.

Kelly Olynyk is looking good so far this preseason. He’s coming off the bench as one of the key rotational pieces and so far through two games, he’s showing what he can be for the team. He’s only averaging 4.5 points so far, but he’s also dropping five rebounds, three assists, one block, and all in just 20.5 minutes per game.

While his stats aren’t leaping off the page right now, his impact is. He’s a heck of a passer and he really showcased what he can be for the Jazz off the bench as a distributor, especially to his fellow skyscrapers.

Outside of a nice defensive chase down by Ochai Agbaji, the biggest highlight from the Los Angeles Clippers game in Seattle was a beautiful pass from Olynyk to Lauri Markkanen that was placed in the perfect spot where shorter players had no chance of stopping either man.

With Olynyk at the top of the key and Markkanen cutting to the blocks, it was an easy score for the Finnish superstar, but not a pass that everyone could make. Olynyk looked more like a BYU/Utah/Utah State quarterback than he did an NBA power forward/center.

Those are the same kind of passes that had Kevin Love as the runner-up to the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2021-2022. If Olynyk can continue to have dynamic passes like that, coupled with Jazz victories of course, then it’s not hard to see that Olynyk could be a contender for the top bench guy in the league.

He’ll have some stiff competition, especially from his own teammate Jordan Clarkson, but it’s possible that if the Jazz thrive, and Olynyk is on the team to close the season, he would at least be in the running just for the way he impacts the game aside from scoring.

And it’s not like this is a fluke, as Utah used him similarly last season, as did Team Canada during the summer’s 2023 FIBA World Cup. The difference is that now the Jazz doesn’t have a Mike Conley, so you need versatility from other positions to make up for what the team lost after Conley got traded.

So now, Olynyk seems like a guy who can step up and truly showcase what he’s capable of.