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Examining Bol Bol’s Fit with the Denver Nuggets

How will the second round pick fit the Nuggets roster?

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament Final-Oregon vs Washington Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

As you know, the former one and done Duck, Bol Bol was drafted with the 44th overall selection by the West contending Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

It was a precipitous fall for one time five star prospect who was injured early on last season. He was the number one trending topic on Twitter for several hours on Thursday night.

(all stats courtesy of sports-reference.com)

How did he do in college?

Per Game:

Per 100 possessions:

Which players are the competition to Bol Bol?

The Nuggets made a spirited run of things until they met the Western Conference finalist Portland Trail Blazers in the WCF semifinals, losing in seven games.

Denver has issues with the salary cap, clocking in with - $12,134,806 but a little wiggle room before they hit the luxury tax with $10,834,939 before they have to pay the tax.

Long time veteran All-Star Paul Millsap has a club option that is up for some debate as he’s 34 years old and carries a $30,500,00 annual salary. Should the option not be picked up, Millsap would become a free agent. I imagine that Millsap could come back at a lesser number to help out the Nuggets. One less player for Bol Bol to compete against for playing time.

Another potential roadblock to major minutes is Trey Lyles and he is a restricted free agent with Bird Rights.

The other two players that are in direct competition with Bol are “redshirt” rookie Michael Porter, Jr and Juan Hernangomez.

Obviously he won’t displace star point center Nikolas Jokic and backup Mason Plumlee just yet.

How does he fit the Nuggets roster?

Bol Bol is a listed 7’2 208. He needs a “76ers style” redshirt season in the worst way possible. The frame will be an issue throughout his career until he develops more strength. Until then, he won’t do much against the bigger players in the post, either offensively or defensively.

There are alleged rumors about his lack of work ethic as well. If that is true, he needs to develop one rather quickly as it can impact his future earning potential.

Bol could be a stretch “4” or a small ball 5 when Jokic / Millsap? / Lyles / Hernangomez / MPJ needs a rest. His game fits the modern NBA as he can provide a decent three point shooting threat, albeit hitting an extremely small sample size (13/25) of 52%.

In his brief cameo for the Ducks, Bol Bol proved that he can post numbers from anywhere on the court. Lateral agility could be an issue due to the foot injury.

I love his fit with the Nuggets depending on who’s out there on the court with him. If it’s another big like Lyles and Plumlee, spacing in the post could be a severe issue as both guys aren’t credible three point threats. Bol isn’t nearly laterally athletic enough to play the three if the Nuggets want to roll out three big lineups. He likely won’t ever be Jokic but could be a capable backup swing 4 and 5.

Coach Mike Malone runs a high uptempo offense so it fits Bol to a tee. In the modern NBA, three point shooting bigs that can also rim run in the pick and roll are very valuable.

Foot injuries on a big man are a huge red flag, especially entering the league. The history of feet injuries on big men is littered with ruined careers that fell short of expectations i.e. Yao Ming and Bill Walton to name a couple.

Defensively, Bol isn’t a sieve but he’ll be exposed by stronger guys in post. Laterally, he’s a competent defender that tries.

If he can get stronger, I can see him being a lighter Al Horford type of player who isn’t the biggest star but is a good third banana on a playoff contender. If he really maxes out, he can turn into a DeAndre Jordan / Ben Simmons type with an actual three point shot that defenses have to respect. Worst case scenario, he turns to bench mob JaVale McGee.