#10 on the PB Big Board
C – Oregon
Freshman, 7’2, 208 pounds
What he does well:
Stretching the floor with shooting
Bol only played nine college basketball games. Much of what we saw is clouded by the fact the lack of sample size and the competition he faced in those games (he only faced three top 50 KenPom teams).
Judging on what we saw though, Bol has a real chance to be a star in the NBA. There is no one alive with his natural size and shooting ability. It’s rare enough to find a 7-foot-2 center. Finding one that can rain threes from way outside is next to impossible.
In nine games, Bol took 25 deep balls and made 13 of them. There’s plenty of reason to assume that is a fluke. Per SBNation’s Ricky O’Donnell, Bol shot just as well in the EYBL, a Nike sponsored circuit for high school stars. While playing at that level, Bol made 45 percent of his long balls. At either level, it’s clear to see his shooting isn’t an anomaly. His stroke is fundamentally solid and everything he does with the ball looks fluid, poised, and lands softly on the rim.
At his size, that is a deadly weapon. Joel Embiid is able to pull centers away from the basket and gets them to fall for pump fakes at the 3-point line despite being a 31.5 percent shooter in three NBA seasons. If Bol can shoot 40 percent from outside, NBA centers will be faced with some terrifying decisions when Bol is used as a high ball screener.
From the brief glimpses we saw at Oregon, Bol even has the ability to pump fake, dribble, and make a move off of a hard close-out. Again, the list of men his size capable of that move can be counted on one hand.
On the other end of the floor, Bol is raw but he showed signs that he can be a factor defensively. He recorded 2.7 blocks per game and used his massive wingspan to challenge every shot at the rim. Bol’s feet looked quick enough for him to patrol the lane and battle on the perimeter when needed. He won’t win match-ups when he gets switched, but he can lose slowly enough for help to arrive or to frustrate the driving guard.
In order to be a real factor defensively, Bol needs to bulk up his body into something more than four twigs attached to his torso. At the combine, he weighed only 208 pounds, which makes for an incredibly thin frame on his 7-foot-2 frame. He weighs two pounds more than likely second round pick Quinndary Weatherspoon, who is nearly a foot shorter than Bol.
If you believe in Bol’s upside, you understand that a 19-year old has plenty of time to gain weight and you believe that his feet are quick enough for him to chase around shorter players when playing against a center who is strong enough to pound him into dust.
Where he struggles:
Body and mind
That header is a very vague way of describing the issues with Bol. It basically boils down into three issues.
First, there’s worries about his injury. He broke the navicular bone in his left foot. That’s the same injury that kept Joel Embiid sidelined for two seasons and essentially ended the careers of Yao Ming and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Then again, Michael Jordan and Marc Gasol had the same injury and recovered just fine. It remains to be seen how Bol’s body will react.
Beyond his body’s health, there are serious concerns about his weight and his ability to play in the paint in the NBA at just 208 pounds. I already touched on those issues above, but they are real cause for concern. Other players have entered the league thin, but those whose frame couldn’t support more weight were unable to fight on the block against NBA size.
Lastly, there are some questions about his drive. Some, like former ESPNer Jeff Goodman, wonder if he really enjoys the game of basketball. This is the type of question that pops up from time to time, especially with big men. The son of a former NBA player who has grown taller than 7-feet has little choice but to take on the game of basketball, like it or not. For him to be a star, there has to be a competitive streak within Bol. Maybe it will grow. Maybe it’s simply not there.
How his game translates to the NBA:
Assuming he can survive minutes at the center position, I’m not sure there’s a player more in this draft suited for the future of the NBA. His measurables and stats look like the type of thing an NBA podcast nerd would doodle in his notebook inside of a cartoon heart drawing.
He’s a legitimate stretch five and maybe the best shooter over 6-foot-11 since Dirk. If not for the questions about his health and mental make-up, I think he’d be deserving of a top five pick.
- This is insane but….Skinny Giannis Antetokuompo with a jump shot
- Thon Maker
- Manute Bol!
Next up: #11 Romeo Langford
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and senior writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to ESPN.com, Rush The Court, Larry Brown Sports, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. You can find every post from this blog on Twitter by following @PalestraBack.