For old NBA fans, There was no more significant player in the 2019 NBA Draft than Bol Bol, Manute Bol’s son, the Sudanese giant of 2.31 who left everyone with their mouths open when (Bullets, Warriors …) the NBA of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and after Michael Jordan, began to sneak into all the houses of the world. At a first glance, Bol Bol arrived from the University of Oregon a replica of his father. He measured 2.18 (a little less, but not much), weighed just 94 kilos (he made even the first Kevin Durant look big …) and it had an absolutely fearsome wingspan (2.34).
Not only that: a slightly closer look at his only year with the Ducks showed a kind of evolution 2.0, towards the total player, of which Manute was: he had a fatal shot of three (52% in that course in College ) although with somewhat slow mechanics for the NBA, and He was certainly a genetic intimidator who was also capable of handling the ball, running in transition and scoring with a lethal reverse. from the middle distance. A priori, extraordinary player weapons.
But the doubts were also very well founded, and that is why it fell to number 44. He only taught those virtues in nine games at Oregon, before a left foot injury. He averaged 21 points and almost 10 rebounds with that aforementioned 52% in triples, but the sample was scarce and, in addition, many analysts doubted his ability to transfer his physical superiority to an NBA of shorter but stronger players already a type of game in which the interiors are increasingly appreciated if they can come out from under the rim (the natural place of Bol Bol) and handle the exteriors in the changes after blocking. In Oregon he seemed not to need to strain to produce, so it was not known how sacrificed he was going to be before the tremendous bodies of the NBA zones, nor how long a physique like his would endure in a League in which it was played at a much higher speed of action than in his father’s.
Both the ceiling and the risk were very high, so it finally fell to number 44 and the Denver Nuggets, where he took on the challenge of working on his adaptation. It was worth it, for a 2.18 center that made triples. It was the opportunity for the son of the legendary Manute (he died in 2010), born in Sudan and settled in the United States after his family left via Egypt and as refugees when Manute was accused of being a US spy in the middle of the Sudanese civil war. Named after his great-grandfather, head of the Dinka tribe, Bol Bol (who was 1.96 at age 13) came to the NBA with the intention of proving that he was much more than his father’s version 2.0. But for now, it has not been like this: in two seasons he has played 32 games with an average of six minutes which has also gone less (12.4 as rookie, 5 as sophomore). His averages are 2.8 points, 1.1 rebounds and 39% in triples. And he has basically disappeared from the limelight of the Nuggets, one of the most competitive teams in the NBA, and seemed lost to the cause. He has only this year’s contract left, in exchange for $ 2.1 million.
But Things may look better for the center’s third season, who is still 21 years old. In the team’s preseason on the West Coast, at the University of California San Diego facilities, it has become the big surprise that everyone cites after the first days of training. His coach, Michael Malone, is one of the most satisfied, and has made it clear that until now there have been adaptation and fitness issues that have weighed down the player, who now seems much more committed: “I think Bol Bol is at a great level. , very consistent. When asked about him … It has never been a question of whether he is talented enough. With him it is about whether you are willing to do the little things, to be consistent in your effort. And now, after these first days, his level of effort has been very good ”.
The Denver press is talking about a second unit, the white bibs, which is beating the first in the first few games. In it are Bol Bol, a Bones Hyland with whom he says that the pivot is developing a remarkable chemistry (number 26 of the last draft), Austin Rivers, Facu Campazzo … His teammates have also noticed the change in Bol Bol: “He’s like a unicorn, you don’t see many players like him “says PJ Dozier. And Jeff Green has taken it personally that he finally exploits his virtues and is on top of him in every training session: “This year he is going to achieve it. And that is my commitment, because we need him ”. We’ll see if it works.