Watching highlights in a gym surrounded only by teammates can be misleading. But the Denver Nuggets have reason to be excited about Bol Bol.
The 19-year-old rookie made headlines on Tuesday for practice footage of him scoring after a pass from Denver star Nikola Jokic.
Bol, the third-highest ranked high school player in 2018, surprisingly slid to the second round of the draft last season. He then signed a two-way contract with the Nuggets and is currently practicing with the organization as the team prepares for the season to resume at Disney World.
Considering he may make his NBA debut when the team picks up play, it is worth looking at what he has done at a professional level thus far. According to Synergy Sports, Bol averaged 1.09 points per possession in the G League, which ranked in the 94th percentile among all players.
The most encouraging news is that he was 16-for-29 (55.2 percent) on his jump shot attempts. This is what gives him the “unicorn” label from scouts as well and also explains why he is often compared to Kristaps Porzingis.
For him to have legitimate success in the modern NBA, his jumper needs to hit. Based on the evidence we have seen thus far in the pros, however, that seems likely.
As you can see from the shot chart above, Bol nearly never missed on his mid-range attempts. He was 9-for-12 (75 percent) from midrange, per NBA.com, which ranked as the best among all G League players who had as many field goal opportunities from this zone.
More encouraging, he was 6-for-9 (66.7 percent) specifically on guarded attempts off the catch. As a shooter, Bol occasionally uses his absurd length to create a mismatch as a shooter against defenders.
Watch how he shoots over former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, who is 6-foot-8 and has a 7-foot-2 wingspan. Bol brags enough sheer length to more than compensate for Bennett collapsing onto him for the contest.
Bol was 22-for-33 (66.7 percent) within five feet of the basket. Despite the fact that he is 7-foot-2 with a 7-foot-7 wingspan, however, only four of those opportunities were on post-up attempts.
This is especially encouraging because it means that he is utilizing more than just his size advantage (far more egregious in the G League than it will be in the NBA against bigger defenders) to create scoring chances.
Occasionally, however, the big man just happened to score based on sheer proximity to the rim. It is not hard for Bol to get an easy two points just by hanging out near the dunker spot considering his standing reach, which was just half an inch off the record at the NBA Combine at 9-foot-7.
But the play type he used most often was in pick-and-roll sets. This is how he finished 34 possessions (41.5 percent) during his games for the Windy City Blue.
The big man was 11-for-16 (68.8 percent) on all high pick-and-roll sets, averaging 1.33 PPP (83rd percentile) in 2019-20. Given his unreal height, Bol is more easily able to see over his defenders and make the right read from the top of the key.
There have been instances of Bol setting screens beyond the three-point line for his ballhandling teammate, then only needing four steps to get a dunk on the roll. His ability to glide across the key is something that very few (outside of reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo) can do.
One way that Bol can take his game to the next level is showing that he can be the rare frontcourt player who is able to take the ball coast-to-coast as the ballhandler in transition.
Bol might not be particularly fast or agile but for his height, he is able to move north and south down the court fairly easily. Thanks to his large strides, he is able to potentially beat out defenders in the open court.
In the clip below, you can even see how he threw on a little flair to ensure he had enough space against his defender to secure the layup.
Bol, who averaged 2.7 blocks per game in his nine collegiate games for the Oregon Ducks, could be a one-man highlight reel capable of turning defense into offense with more of these plays.
Of course, all of this has been while playing against competition in the G League. When facing tougher teams, some of his flaws may be exposed more drastically.
The young prospect still needs quite a bit of improvement on pick-and-pop sets. Bol will also need to add even more weight and muscle to his frame to avoid getting bullied and thrown around by larger opponents.
But especially considering they only had to use a second-round pick to select him, Denver could have a legitimate steal in Bol.