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.