Possible NBA Landing Spots for Bol Bol
Just months ago, Oregon big man Bol Bol was turning heads with his eye-opening play early in the college basketball season. The highly-touted prospect was averaging 21.0 points on 56.1% shooting from the field to go with 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks, but a foot injury ended his season just nine games into the 2018-19 campaign. Since then, recency bias and injury concerns have tempered Bol’s draft stock considerably. There is no question regarding his skill; the 7-foot-2 big man can handle the ball at an exceptional level (relative to his height) and has true three-level scoring potential. However, questions over stamina, weight, strength, and durability have raised concern over how his game will translate to the NBA. The drafting of Bol would be a high risk, high reward selection – so, let’s take a look at some teams that should take that risk.
Picks: 14th, 20th, 22nd
If there is a team in the NBA that can afford to take a chance on Bol, it’s the Celtics. Even with Al Horford (PO), Aron Baynes (PO), and Marcus Morris (Unrestricted) potentially hitting free agency in July, it is not expected that Boston will have any glaring frontcourt needs next year. More than likely Horford and Baynes will return, with the organization bringing in another serviceable forward to fill out the rotation. There would be no pressure on Bol to contribute right away on a veteran-laden roster, and the smaller role will allow him to pack on muscle in the weight-room and fine tune his skills for a future starring role in Beantown.
On the court, Bol gives the Celtics something they need: a rim protector. Blocking just under two shots a game in college, his length and quickness can disrupt the flow of opposing offenses. Aside from his sky-high defensive potential, when Bol is on the court, there is not a dire need for him to be an offensive dynamo; the offense will be centered around guys like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Kyrie Irving (maybe). A rookie Bol would provide tremendous value to the Celtics if he could even hit 2 threes a game, while providing rim-hawking defensive effort in 10 to 12 minutes per game. With three picks in the first round and a playoff-bound roster, Boston should be looking to take a risk on Bol with the 14thoverall pick.
All of the executive focus in Charlotte should be shifted towards deciding whether or not to try to convince Kemba Walker to re-sign in July, given the cap implications imposed by his recent qualification for a 5-year/$221 million super-max contract; the need for a homerun-caliber draft selection couldn’t be any more critical. Taking a player with a starry ceiling could be framed as an another part of the sales pitch to Kemba, as Charlotte is desperate for quality support on an inflexibly assembled roster. There is an obvious risk if they were to take Bol, but if the pick pans out, the duo could be intriguing. If they elect to part ways with the All-Star point guard, Bol could be a franchise building block moving forward.
Frank Kaminsky, Bismack Biyombo, Willy Hernangomez and company are definitely not the answer for the Hornets’ frontcourt in the long run, so deciding to take a risk on a potentially game-breaking centre doesn’t sound too far-fetched. Charlotte is in an interesting situation, regardless of whether or not Walker re-signs, as the Hornets have enough young backcourt promise to offset the big man situation.
There have been rumors circulating that Detroit is shopping Andre Drummond for a potential trade. Thon Maker has shown improvement, but it’s highly doubtful that either him or Jon Leuer is the long-term running mate alongside Blake Griffin. The pressure would be on in Detroit as they would look for Bol to contribute right away and play significant minutes. The good news is that he is skilled enough to make that scenario a distinct possibility, provided he put in serious time conditioning himself this offseason. His 52% shooting from deep would give the Pistons some much needed perimeter shooting, and his ability to stretch a floor would immediately provide the spacing that Drummond sorely lacked. The combination of excellent fit, value-for-pick, three-level scoring potential, and immediate shot blocking capability may be more enticing than his lack of strength and stamina is off-putting.