Jonah Bolden is finally coming over after years of hype. Sound familiar? The situation is a bit different from our dear Homie, as the hype for Bolden has died down after a less than ideal Summer League.
Since we had last seen him, Bolden had put up 6.9/5.5/1.6 for Maccabi Tel Aviv, with a block and a little over a steal per game. The shot had some trouble, finishing 32% from deep and a suspect 51% from the charity stripe. The numbers don’t fly off the page, but the numbers show a lot of what’s expected of him. Philly is mostly looking for Bolden to hold down a backup lineup spot and play behind Embiid, Saric, Muscala, and Amir Johnson.
Notable Offseason Points
Welcome to the NBA.
Jonah signed his 4 year, $7m (per The Athletic’s Shams Charania) rookie contract, joining the team as a minimally cheap backup option for the next few years. That’s the most important part of his acquisition. Bolden had a bit of an up and down Summer League, despite dominating 2016 SL with Ben Simmons.
This summer, he managed 6.5 /6.0/0.5, with one and a half steals and a block per game. Sixers fans seemed to be disappointed (likely due to the frightening number of airballs he produced), but he did demonstrate the skillsets needed in order to be take over Richaun Holmes’ role.
Strengths and Areas of Improvement
We’ve been hearing about Bolden for two years now, so it’s not surprising that his skill set is generally well known. Expect Bolden to play as a switchable 5 with a theoretical three. He opens up some nice defensive schemes that Amir and Muscala don’t quite offer. He’s a respectable rim protector and shows solid athleticism for his size. And while I doubt it will be extraordinarily impactful in the coming season, it is nice to have an additional Aussie on the roster for Ben Simmons.
Where does Bolden need to improve? Unfortunately there are a more than a few notable areas of improvement, but fortunately, some of them will take care of themselves. For one, how will Bolden’s game translate to being utilized for shorter stretches of time? He’s played relatively significant minutes on the teams he’s spent his time on. Some players lose some of their magic when they can’t get in their rhythm. But most likely, that will be sharpened with experience. Similarly, he’s going to have to learn how to defend without fouling and adjust to defense in the NBA in general. That’ll come with time as well.
The most notable piece of his game that needs to develop, however, is his range. He knocked in a few treys during the summer, but he also airballed a good amount. Now, his airballs were relatively good airballs. I know that sounds weird – but not all air-outs are equal. His were generally on target, just way off on power. The good news is that with some improved conditioning (leg strength is a significant component) and practice adjusting to the NBA range, he may be able to get something out of it. If he can get that figured out over the next handful of seasons, we’ll have a switchy rim protector who can score in the post and hit jumpers from outside. That sounds good to me.
Expectations and Predictions
It’s tough to gauge exactly what Bolden’s numbers will look like since he’s likely going to be pretty far down the depth chart to start. For comparison, last year Richaun Holmes played 15.5 mpg in 48 games and put up 6.5/4.4/1.3/.4/.6.
I’m expecting Bolden to put up something in the neighborhood of 6/5.5/2, with about 1.6 combined blocks and steals per game. Because most of his expectations are defensive, stats don’t quite tell that story. Overall, a satisfactory season from Jonah Bolden would be comprised of passable finishing, a display of switchability, and consistent effort on defense. If he manages that, Sixers fans will be happy.
Editor’s Note: Beginning September 27 and continuing up until the start of the season, we will be profiling each member of the current 76ers’ roster. Be sure to check out our schedule below and hear what our writers expect from our Sixers players.
|September 27||Jonah Bolden||October 8||Wilson Chandler|
|September 29||Shake Milton||October 10||JJ Redick|
|September 30||Zhaire Smith||October 11||Robert Covington|
|October 1||Furkan Korkmaz||October 13||Dario Saric|
|October 3||Amir Johnson||October 14||Markelle Fultz|
|October 4||Mike Muscala||October 15||Ben Simmons|
|October 6||Landry Shamet||October 16||Joel Embiid|
|October 7||TJ McConnell|