Let's get all of the qualifiers out of the way first.
Yes, it was one game.
Yes, we've seen Warriors' youngsters put up huge exhibition performances in the past, only to never come close to fulfilling their apparent potential.
And yes, the second round of the draft is a crapshoot.
But my oh my, did Bol Bol look mighty impressive in his NBA debut Wednesday in the Denver Nuggets' first exhibition game in the Orlando bubble against the Washington Wizards.
Sixteen points, 10 rebounds, six blocks, two 3-pointers and a plus-18 in 32 minutes of action. From a guy who is 7-foot-2 and won't turn 21 until November. The stats don't do his performance justice.
Bol Bol's Debut!— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 22, 2020
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The Warriors, of course, chose three players ahead of Bol in the 2019 NBA draft. And despite all of the aforementioned qualifiers, it wouldn’t be surprising if they end up regretting passing on Bol.
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Eric Paschall was one of those three, and Golden State deserves credit, not criticism, for that selection. He had a tremendous rookie season, averaged 14.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game on 49.7 percent shooting from the field and likely will be named to one of the All-Rookie teams. It was a hell of a pick by the Warriors, especially since it came with the third (and last) of their selections at No. 41 overall.
It's the previous two picks that could come back to bite them if Bol goes on to be a stud.
Jordan Poole, selected with the No. 28 overall pick in the first round, struggled in his first NBA season. Inconsistency is to be expected from a rookie, but the Warriors surely were hoping for better 3-point shooting (27.9 percent) and that Poole would be able to play the point more effectively than he did.
Still, the Warriors needed a guard, so you can see why they picked him. And we shouldn't discount his potential to bounce back in his sophomore season.
And then there's Alen Smailagic, whom Golden State took with the No. 39 overall pick -- a selection acquired by trading two future second-rounders to the New Orleans Pelicans. He was 18 years old at the time, and had impressed in 47 appearances with the Santa Cruz Warriors as the youngest player in G League history.
Given the time and effort the franchise had invested in Smailagic prior to the draft, it wasn't exactly a well-kept secret that the Warriors sought to retain him with one of their selections. At No. 39 -- five picks ahead of Bol -- though, it arguably was a case of Golden State overvaluing its own asset.
The pick also was questionable in the sense that the Warriors -- at the time, at least -- were believed to need players who could immediately contribute, and Smailagic still is quite raw.
He showed glimpses of his potential in 14 appearances with Golden State before the season was shut down, and you could see why the Warriors believe he has a bright future. But after Wednesday, there probably aren’t many who would trade Bol for Smailagic straight up.
Bol certainly had his reasons for slipping in the draft, and it should be noted that the Warriors were one of 29 teams that passed on him. He only appeared in nine collegiate games and came with big injury concerns (that's what happens when you're 7-foot-2). Those concerns didn't disappear after his selection, either, as a foot problem limited him to just eight G League games.
If you're going to go young and high upside with a pick, you might as well shoot for the stars -- not to mention, the offspring of one of the largest (literally) fan favorites in franchise history. Bol -- who only is 275 days older than Smailagic and is the son of the late Manute -- offered even more upside, and arguably the same risk.
Bol put that upside on display Wednesday. And, yes, it was only one game, and one that didn't count, no less. But while the bubble exhibitions might look like Summer League, they're definitely a step up in competition due to the players involved.
It was only one game, hindsight is 20/20, the Warriors' rookies all could turn out to be great and Bol's performance Wednesday might be a flash in the pan.
But, if it was an indication of what's to come, that could be a hard one to swallow.