With free agency and potentially the Greatest Summer Ever coming up for the Sixers, let’s not forget about one man who could make an immediate impact for the team. In the 2017 NBA draft the Sixers selected Australian Forward Jonah Bolden from the Serbian League at 36th overall but, due to a tight roster, Bolden signed overseas with Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv on a two year contract with an option to the NBA. The tweets above seem to indicate that Jonah Bolden will be coming over for the Sixers next season and hopefully he will be here in time for the Summer Leagues.
In his first year with Maccabi Fox, Jonah averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 62% from 2 point range, 13th best in the league. In his Euroleague campaign, Bolden also finished 12th in total rebounds, 8th in blocks, 7th in steals, and 4th in defensive rebounds.
What Jonah Bolden can immediately bring to the Sixers is defense, rebounding, and length; and in the small ball lineup that Brett Brown likes to run, he could be a great insert at the center position.
That brings us to the most frequently asked question about Jonah Bolden in the NBA...
What is he?
Is he a 3? A 4? A 5? Stretch 4? Small 5? Stretch 5? Point Forward? Unicorn?
While playing for Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv, Bolden played mostly Power Forward as Euroleague is typically more traditional with positioning. However, that in no sense means that Bolden would be a 4 in the NBA. In fact, he might struggle to fit in as a modern NBA 4 as he transitions in to the league. He shot just 31% from distance this season which may limit his offensive capabilities but, he did shoot 41% from 3 in his first year in Serbia before entering the NBA draft so his shot isn’t “broken.”
Brett Brown loves to run that “small ball” United Nations lineup of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli, Dario Saric, and Ersan Ilyasova and Jonah Bolden could end up being a fantastic fit into that center slot if Ersan doesn’t resign with the Sixers. While his shooting isn’t up to Ersan’s par, Bolden defense is above Ilyasova’s (except not as many charges with Bolden).
There is one play in particular that embodies almost everything Jonah Bolden can bring to this team.
Steal. Run the floor. Finds an open man across the court. Grabs offensive rebound. Passes out to wide open three. Clinical.
With still a vague idea of who our frontcourt will consist of at the start of next season, let’s hit the film room and see what Jonah is made of.
My absolute favorite defensive play I’ve ever seen Jonah Bolden pull off was in a game against the Luka Doncic led Real Madrid team. Much like how European Soccer fans cheer and appreciate solid, non flashy defensive plays, this fundamental defensive play from Jonah brought me off my sofa and had me standing.
Here we see Bolden hedge Euro Superstar Luka Doncic off a ball screen, then Bolden recovers back to his man , stays down on a shot fake and denies him the lane. Bolden once again switches back on to Luka Doncic, avoids fouling on the three and forces him to pass with just 2 seconds left on the shot clock and in to a shot only Marco Belinelli could hit.
Next we can see a nice strip down low and after forever Sixer Pierre Jackson turns it over, Jonah Forrest Gumps from the far corner and tracks back for a nice chase down block.
And just because Jonah was destroying Iowa alum Aaron White that game, here’s another chase down block and some trash talk.
GIMMIE THAT SHIT (s/o Jerami Grant)
In to the mantle of the Earth
Here, because of a defensive miscommunication, Bolden is left defending two people under the basket, he reads the ball handlers’ eyes and wins the chess match as he anticipates the pass in to the paint and nearly gets the steal (bad luck on the bounce)
More defensive highlights will be seen in the “Length” portion, but first let’s look at some rebounding.
Again, Jonah Bolden ranked 4th in total defensive rebounds, he ranked 42nd in the league in offensive rebounds, which is odd because he’s a phenomenal offensive rebounder. Part of the low ranking might have to do with the fact Bolden hung around the perimeter a lot more while trying to work on his 3 point shooting, but he tirelessly works the glass and often tips balls back in, even through contact.
He always seems to be able to get a hand on the ball and make an impact on every missed shot.
I know defensive rebounds aren’t the most exciting thing to watch but here’s some of his better ones where he skies over and out bodies his opponents to snags rebounds.
* Otis Redding Voice * These Arms of Miiiiine
That seems like a good segway in to the Length portion of this when you all get to see just how long Jonah Bolden is.
Bolden stands at 6’10 but stands wide with a reported 7’3” wingspan that make him a physical specimen on the court.
Like look at this shit
Bolden also does a great job at closing out and getting a hand in jump shooters faces without fouling.
Here he uses that long ass wingspan to knock the ball in to the back court and closes out nicely to force the miss.
He forces a turnover here by making himself as big as possible and staring in to the soul of the ball handler.
A simple play here, but he completely denies the pass in to the post and forces the ball back out to the top of the key.
More will be said about his offensive capabilities as the Summer progresses, but Bolden is a very capable passer and loves to grab defensive rebounds and push the ball up court, and on a Sixers team that ranked 5th in the NBA in pace in the 2017-18 season, Bolden’s transition on to the Sixers and in to the NBA should be simpler.
As the NBA season comes to a close and draft/free agency talk starts, don’t forget about Jonah Bolden.