Jonah Bolden

Sixers draft pick Jonah Bolden signs 3-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv

Sixers draft pick Jonah Bolden signs 3-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv

Sixers draft pick Jonah Bolden is officially headed back overseas.

Bolden, the 36th overall selection in last month’s draft, signed a three-year contract to play in Israel with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced. The deal does contain opt-out clauses for the NBA.

“Jonah is a very talented young player with great potential, an athletic forward who knows how to shoot the ball and a great guy who likes to work hard,” Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Neven Spahija said, per the EuroLeague's official website. “We believe he will develop into a great player.”

Bolden had hoped to join the Sixers for next season after spending summer league with the squad. The 6-10, 227-pound forward averaged 8.7 points on 36.8 percent shooting from the field and 31.4 percent from three-point range between the Utah and Las Vegas Summer Leagues. He also put up 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 23.4 minutes a game.

Bolden entered the draft after putting up 12.1 points (59.7 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from three-point range), 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals a game for KK FMP Beograd of Serbia last season. Those numbers earned him the Adriatic League’s Top Prospect award, previously won by Dario Saric and Nikola Jokic.

Bolden won’t be the only player on Maccabi Tel Aviv’s roster with Sixers/Philly ties. Former 2013 Sixers second-round pick Pierre Jackson and Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, native Jake Cohen are both members of the team.

Jonah Bolden might not play for Sixers this season but has intriguing future

Jonah Bolden might not play for Sixers this season but has intriguing future

Jonah Bolden considered himself to be viewed as “the mystery kid” in this year’s draft. After playing in Serbia last season, he was relatively unknown in comparison to his draft classmates. He wanted to participate in summer league to prove what he could do at the NBA level and he accomplished just that. 

Bolden stood out on the Sixers' roster with his versatility and, most noticeably, his ability to spread the floor with a three-point shot. It was easy to envision how these skills would translate to the NBA, especially on a Sixers team that will have a positionless lineup in many cases. 

A report by David Pick indicated Bolden will remain overseas with Maccabi Tel Aviv for the upcoming season. While a source said no official decision has been made about where Bolden will play, it would make sense for him to spend another season competing internationally because of the crowded Sixers roster.

Regardless of where Bolden is this coming season, there will be a high level of intrigue surrounding the 21-year-old’s game. Before we see what Bolden can do, CSNPhilly.com spoke to one of Bolden’s opponents about what can be expected. 

Hawks 2017 draft pick Alpha Kaba played against Bolden last season in the Adriatic League. Bolden and Kaba, both 6-foot-10, were matched up at times when Bolden’s team, Red Star, faced Mega Leks. 

“First of all, he’s really an athletic player,” Kaba said. “He can put the ball on the floor, he can shoot, he’s a complete guy. It was really amazing playing against him because it’s a kind of a challenge because he’s a great player.”

During summer league, Bolden averaged 8.8 points and shot 31.4 percent from three. There were instances when more traditional big men had trouble chasing Bolden to the arc. Kaba saw glimpses of that last season. 

“He was spreading the floor a lot,” Kaba said. “He likes to take the rebound, bring up the ball and that’s how we played. He was like a stretch-four, even a three. He can bring up the ball, take some screens, set some pick-and-rolls.”

Bolden also grabbed 6.3 rebounds, blocked 1.4 shots and had 1.9 steals per game in summer league. He uses his size to cause problems on the defensive end. 

“Defensively, he’s athletic, he can block some shots, take some rebounds,” Kaba said. “He’s got a pretty long wingspan too so he can cover all of the floor by helping on the opposite side.”

When Bolden does play in the NBA, he will look to pose the same matchup issues Kaba and others already have experienced in Europe.

Report: Sixers to stash Jonah Bolden in Israel next season

Report: Sixers to stash Jonah Bolden in Israel next season

Last week, Jonah Bolden said that his basketball future was “up to the Sixers.”

It appears the team has made its decision.

According to NBA reporter David Pick on Twitter, Bolden will return overseas next season to play in Israel.

With Maccabi Tel Aviv, Bolden will have the opportunity to play for a top-flight Euroleague program and a well-traveled coach Neven Spahija, who spent time as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks from 2014-2017.

Bolden, who was selected with the 36th overall pick by the Sixers last month, played in both the Utah and Las Vegas Summer Leagues for the team. In eight games, Bolden averaged 8.7 points on 36.8 percent shooting from the field and 31.4 percent from three-point range. The 6-10, 227-pound Bolden also put up 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 23.4 minutes a game.

"Every day that he's played competitively since he's gotten here, we've seen him grow and grow in his assertiveness,” Sixers assistant Billy Lange said of Bolden in Utah. “And it just happens. You start figuring out language. You start figuring out spacing and where you have to be.”