Can Internet Sensation Bol Bol Make It in the NBA?


On the NBA Draft stage, when asked to describe
his unique basketball tool kit, and moments after being acquired by the Nuggets, Bol Bol
told ESPN’s Maria Taylor: “You guys have seen it on YouTube,” “Pretty
much going to bring that to the NBA, plus more.”
The videos Bol referenced have piled up millions of views since he was a 6-foot-5 seventh-grader,
the rangy son of former NBA player Manute Bol who was already demonstrating a guard’s
skill set despite towering heads and shoulders above kids his age.
The highlights built a hysteria that made Bol famous long before this year. His basketball
life unfolded on the internet for all to see. It’s part of the reason Bol is entering
the NBA with the Nuggets as a 7-foot-2 enigma who plummeted in the draft despite entering
his lone college season as a player regarded as highly as the draft’s No. 1 pick, Zion
Williamson. The current doubts would have seemed difficult
to imagine one year ago. As Bol advanced into high school and onto the elite youth basketball
circuit, each game he played was a viral moment waiting to happen. Whether he was dunking
between his legs, hitting NBA range 3-pointers or running fast breaks, Bol’s game grew
up online. He has played pickup games with rappers like
Quavo. His fans include fellow 7-footer Shaquille O’Neal, who told Complex Magazine before
the draft that Bol is the player in the pool he would select to start a franchise with
over anyone else. Zion Williamson was the only player in the
draft class with a larger social media imprint than Bol, who boasts nearly 900,000 Instagram
followers, more than any other player on his new NBA team. But Williamson went No. 1 overall
in June’s draft, his own eye-popping YouTube highlights bolstered by a sterling yearlong
resume at Duke. Bol, whose lone season at Oregon was limited to nine games because of
a stress fracture in his foot, had to wait through 43 selections after Williamson’s
name was called before hearing his own. On a night when the gap between the two had
grown so large, it was easy to forget how narrow it had been a little more than a year
earlier. As both players finished their high school careers in 2018, Williamson was the
fifth-ranked prospect in the country, according to 247Sport’s composite rankings. Bol was
fourth, his status atop the country’s recruiting services built on the potential of a 7-foot-2
unicorn whose skill set within his frame is wildly uncommon.
Bol’s stock was rising right along with ZionMania for much of his senior year at Findlay
Prep in Las Vegas, where he averaged 20.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks against
a national schedule. Since then, Williamson’s buzz has only grown louder, and though Bol
may be Zion’s peer in internet fame, his status as a second-round pick guarantees very
little in the NBA. Despite that, a chance to get his feet on
the ground at the Nuggets after a half-decade of moving from school to school, could be
just the ticket. After all, Bol has been near constantly on the move since his father passed
away nine years ago. “It’s what I’ve been dreaming of since
I was young, so it’s pretty exciting to finally be at this stage,” Bol said. “My
dad told me so many great stories about the NBA, stories about the coaches who coached
him. It’s pretty cool now that I’m all grown up and am in the same position.”
His injury, alongside questions about his motor, work ethic and commitment, hurt Bol
in the draft process, but the Nuggets, who had a first-round grade on the player, peered
through that cloud of intel and focused intently on what came prior. Before the fracture in
his foot, Bol was averaging 21 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game while shooting
52 percent (!) from 3-point range. Against the three best teams Oregon faced during Bol’s
nine games — Iowa, Syracuse and Houston — he put up averages of 21 points, 7.7 rebounds
and 3.7 blocks, his defensive intensity rising against better competition.
“I’ve never seen a guy like that, honestly” said Tyler Cook, who played at Iowa and faced
Bol in college. “With his skill level, I think one thing he doesn’t get enough credit
for is that he knows how to play the game. Obviously, everyone has to adjust when you
get to the NBA, but he has a good feel for the game and he’s really unselfish too.
He gives up shots to get his teammates better shots. He protects the rim. There’s a whole
lot of things he can do to make himself great at this level.”
The Nuggets have produced 39 still-image posts on their official Instagram page in July.
The post with by far the most “likes,” at over 40,000? A multi-photo capture of Bol
working out in Las Vegas. The fascination with Denver’s newest player
probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, even as Bol begins his career largely in an
anonymous fashion. The Nuggets will be patient. Bol has only been working out since May, and
though he says his foot is back to 100 percent, he must gain weight and build up his conditioning
before he can be cleared to return to the floor. When he does, it’s likely Bol will
spend time in the G League as he builds up his body and his game.
“I just want to prove everyone wrong,” Bol said on the draft stage last month. “Just
come out and be the best player I can be.”

13 thoughts on “Can Internet Sensation Bol Bol Make It in the NBA?

  1. Bol Bol was the steal of the draft. Him and the nuggets will be fun to watch next season. Great videos guys. I hope when the season is done you can do an overview of him

  2. I do not think Bol Bol will ever play in the NBA ,his contract tell the story. He signed a 2 way contract for 50,000 a year for 2 years. I think his injury is career ending.

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