We stopped the Bol Bol train car to Paul Pierce’s cradle, threw open the door, and offered to drive him with a shotgun for as long as he wanted. The 10-time NBA All-Star jumped in and thanked us by rolling his left foot to the driver’s side and pumping the brakes like there was no tomorrow.
“I’ve been too long – too, too long – to be hyped by a few highlights and a good game and a good scrimmage,” Pierce, the ESPN analyst called “The Truth” during his salad days with the Celtics, said Thursday .
“I mean yes, he has tremendous potential. But it’s just like the Summer League. How many guys do we see the Summer League MVP get and then they’ll say, ‘Oh, yes, he’s a potential All-Star , yes, he has a bright future, “and then the average players turn out to be?”
Remember Von Wafer?
Of course. Summer 2007. The Nuggets signed Wafer, an ex Florida State and Colorado 14ers sniper, in April of ’07. Dude was the hottest to hit the Strip since Celine Dion.
He dropped 42 in a Summer League tilt against the Knicks. The 6-foot-5 wing scored the Nuggs in ’07, scoring 24.2 points per game in Vegas. Von was coming.
Until he was not.
Once the lights really turned on, the man averaged 1.3 points over 4.3 minutes per game in 22 appearances during the 2007-08 regular season. In February, Wafer was traded to the Blazers for Taurean Green.
Look, nobody labels Bol as the second coming of Vakeaton Quamar Wafer. We just point out that we have been fooled before.
“The potential is there. He has all the tools, ” said Pierce of Bol, the second round of the Nuggs in 2019, which went viral on Wednesday after posting 16 points, 10 boards and six blocks against Washington.
“But I don’t look at that. I have to be there and measure his heart, his pride, his determination, his competitive spirit. I have to see all that – those are the things I really look at. Because I have guys with all those skills and they just didn’t have it. “
On the other hand, few boys had such a set. Bol, the son of former NBA man Manute Bol, stands 7-foot-2 with a wingspan of 7-9, blessed with the kind of crazy ceiling he can touch with his tippy toes. A child who can wipe out the sun and see the 20-25 foot break.
Like teammate Michael Porter Jr., Bol is a “stretch” big and a matchup nightmare, averaging 21 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in Oregon in 2018-19, while more than holding his own last winter in the G-League (12 points) 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks for 19.3 minutes per game). In eight appearances with the Windy City Bulls, he drank 36.4% of his attempts from outside the arc. And he is 20.
“They have so many players up front and what you’re trying to do is figure out who will be most compatible with the Joker,” said ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, a nod to All-Star center Nikola Jokic. “If Bol can make an open shot and continue to monitor the rim, he, (Mason) Plumlee, Michael Porter Jr., all three of those guys – especially Bol Bol and Michael Porter Jr., when those two come out that takes the Nuggets to another level.
“Gary Harris didn’t have the season you hoped for him, and they don’t have a consistent second All-Star. And they will need Bol Bol’s potential. I don’t know if he’s going to be that impact player to get there this year “But I love his promise, his height, his ability to make threes and protect the rim.”
Still, one scrimmage doesn’t make an All-Star brand. Remember Von? Wafer also lit up the G-League.
Until he didn’t.
“I mean, the potential is there, and I like that,” Pierce said of Bol. “But I won’t all jump out of my seat after seeing a peak. I have to see it in the course of 82 games. I have to see it when playing against all competition.
“That’s practice. I just see practice games out there. My boy down the street can have a good day. ‘
Sometimes the truth hurts.