Every player who comes into the NBA is compared to players who have come before them. Sometimes those comparisons can be far too lofty and create expectations that are hard to reach for young prospects, but sometimes prospects surpass the expectations that were thrust upon them with more understated comparisons.

“I think the most important thing is just trying to be myself out there and not feel confined by any limits.”

—  Utah Jazz rookie Kyle Filipowski

More often than not, the comps are made by people outside of an NBA team — analysts, reporters, etc. That’s not the case with Utah Jazz draft pick Kyle Filipowski, who has been compared to Kelly Olynyk by NBA scouts, coaches and executives, and it’s a comparison that Filipowski welcomes.

“Kelly Olynyk’s had an incredible career and he’s a really great player. I think that’s a great comparison,” the 32nd overall pick in the 2024 draft said Tuesday. “And at the same time, I think there’s always other comparisons you can make, no matter who it is. I think the most important thing is just trying to be myself out there and not feel confined by any limits.”

Jazz rookies ready for a chance to prove the doubters wrong
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Olynyk had already established himself as one of the most versatile and reliable big men in the game long before he joined the Jazz in 2022. And although he was only with the Jazz for a season and a half, he made a lasting impression on the franchise. Having a player at that size, that can work as a secondary playmaker, who is a threat from outside and can make plays for himself (no matter how fast or slow those plays might be) is invaluable.

Jazz coach Will Hardy called Olynyk the “connective tissue” of the Jazz and often remarked at how Olynyk made the team better even when he wasn’t being praised or talked about like some of the other players were.


“Kelly is our Swiss Army knife on both ends of the floor,” Hardy said in March 2023. “We’ve asked Kelly to do a lot of different things this year. We’ve asked him to guard a variety of positions, we’ve asked him to do a ton of different things offensively from space to screen to handle the ball to be a facilitator. ... Players of that caliber are massive in team composition.”

Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy talks to Utah Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk (41) during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Filipowski is not expected to come out of the gate on Day 1 of his rookie season and play like Olynyk. He will be given time to develop his own style and grow into a role with the Jazz. But there are things that Filipowski already does that will make that process easier and he’s worked hard to make sure his game has characteristics that will give him the best shot at playing time at the pro level.

He is a willing and above-average passer, he can spread the floor and has developed an outside game. He is not afraid of putting the ball on the floor and making a play for himself but he’s also not afraid to do the little things that make plays easier for his teammates — setting hard screens, cutting, boxing out, communicating.

“I think Kyle has a skillset that will give him a chance to differentiate and to become his own guy,” Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said. “But starting with liking to pass, understanding the game, knowing how to play, having size and being able to dribble, pass, shoot, it’s a good start.”

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