Bol Bol impresses in debut with Denver Nuggets
Predicting the long-term careers of child sports prodigies has always been a near-impossible task, and with the rise of social media and widespread worldwide video access, we’ve seen more and more of these kids bursting onto the scene than ever.
Although it’s strange calling a 7-foot rim rocking, shot-blocking, stutter-stepping beast of a baller a child, Bol Bol really was only 17 years of age when he first blew up in 2017. At that point, nobody knew if he would be anything more then a viral highlight clip. Now, we know.
After an unconventional start to his budding professional career, Bol Bol found himself making his NBA debut about a month after the season was first projected to end. A slew of injuries and an unexpectedly low draft position further propelled the narrative that Bol wouldn’t amount to much, and perhaps the peak of his playing career was already behind him. It’s been a tough journey for him, but the wait was worth it.
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Posting a stat line of 16 points, 10 rebounds, and six blocks in a scrimmage game against the Washington Wizards to kickoff the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season was definitely more than stellar, to say the least. Mere minutes into the game, the man’s name was trending on Twitter as fans went nuts reacting to the young prospect’s outing. For them, this was everything they needed to be sure that he was for real.
Bol’s potential with the Denver Nuggets
Bol Bol is indeed for real. We’ve seen players like him before reaching overwhelming fame at a young age, but very rarely do these players perform well when matched up against the greatest competition in the world. From Thon Maker to Tacko Fall (no offense to neither of those prospects/players), skinny, skilled high school bigs have something of a reputation for being underwhelming fan favorites that eventually fall out into irrelevancy as quickly as they first rose to fame.
Bol Bol is, without a shadow of a doubt, different. He’s everything we thought Thon Maker would be – and more.
It’s difficult to even know where to begin with a kid like this. His shot-blocking ability is already near the top of the league, as the stats clearly show. This is a natural skill Bol has, stemming from his unconventional height and jumping ability, both of which are hugely important to his offensive game as well.
Offensively, Bol is quick and agile, especially for his height. He also has a very good touch from beyond the arc, and can additionally weave through defenders with his thin frame and great ball control.
But that’s not all. The kid also has a traditional big-man side to him as well. His inhuman reach allows him to score over multiple defenders in the paint and snatch rebounds from stronger and wider opponents, which will be just about everybody he faces given his build. This factor makes him a versatile big that can easily slide from small forward over to center if the Denver Nuggets need him to. There isn’t a position in the frontcourt that Bol will not excel in.
All this is a reason to get excited over the kid, but flaws within his game are also very present. As we saw in the scrimmage game, Bol’s body type is just as much of a weakness in his game as it is a strength. He is very prone to injuries, something that has already proven to be a major setback for him.
A ton of potential doesn’t mean a thing if the man who has it is unable to ever show it off. Hopefully, this is an area of focus for Bol and the Nuggets training staff, because the kid desperately needs to put on more weight if he wants to sustain a long NBA career.
Developing more strength will also make everything he is always great at even more deadly. Instead of snatching 10 rebounds, Bol will be able to grab 15 with his newfound ability to successfully box out other bigs. Offensively, being able to back down opponents is just about the only thing his game is missing, and this adjustment would fill in this hole perfectly. In recent years, Joel Embiid has proven to the NBA word how devastating a combination of height, strength, and guard-like skill can be, and Bol Bol is just one step away from following in the Cameroonian giant’s footsteps.
That being said, the likelihood of Bol putting on a substantial amount of weight is, similar to him, slim. Although the luxury of modern-day technology and the abundance of trainers, coaches, and Nuggets staff Bol will have by his side during this journey, Bol Bol will likely never fit the norm of what a traditional center looks like.
Hopefully, however, the kid can build just enough muscle so that this aspect of his game cannot be exploited by opposing players. There is a likelihood that Bol can endure a transformation similar to that of Kristaps Porzingis’s, and if he can, the league will have to watch out.
Assuming he stays healthy, Bol Bol’s ceiling is a better version of Kristaps. The only thing that will prevent him from doing everything that The Unicorn can and more will be himself. If he proves to have the work ethic to attend to the very fixable flaws within his game, there is nothing stopping him from taking the league by storm.