As has been recently reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Detroit Pistons are finalizing a deal to acquire Forward Bol Bol from the Denver Nuggets for Rodney McGruder and a second-round pick. While the trade hasn’t officially gone through of this writing, it’s quite nice to see a news item and an easy pun meet, like Sonny and Cher, peas and carrots, Jet Li and Delroy Lindo… but besides making the title gods weep from joy, we must also understand that there’s a lot here to talk about with Bol Bol’s trade, and I honestly can’t wait to type my Bol Bol’s out. Literally and figuratively…
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I’d say faring much better in the 2kNBA than the actual NBA, Bol Bol has been mired with great expectations throughout his short professional career despite always finding a way (sometimes not even his fault) to disappoint dating back all the way to his precipitous drop in the 2019 draft. If you remember, before his injury at Oregon, he was in the top-5 on ESPN. Sam Smith from NBA.com had him going #18 (to the Pacers) on his last mock. Bol Bol of course went 26 picks after that. There of course have been constant questions about his work ethic and maturity issues, but on a personal level, I’m not as moved by my peers with the intangible parts. These things are always difficult to parse, and while I admit I sometimes wonder if Bol Bol is in his own way a bit, I would point to the fact that a change of scenery is generally the best antidote for such problems. You have to think that if someone’s character is constantly being called out, the situation is untenable at the point.
But even a proxy for a brand new start might work wonders. So now that Bol Bol finds himself with the Detroit Pistons, a team that is an obvious rebuild-phase, my first gut reaction, besides wanting a Twix bar, is that this trade won’t just be offering a fresh start for Bol Bol, but also a fresh start on a team that he could fit in quite well with. His physical size at the forward position is undeniably unique and the Pistons have a need at this point for all talent that has any measure of potential.
Oh, by the way, there’s something else the Pistons have a lot of that Bol Bol might benefit from, and that’s minutes. If there was a frustration that was ultimately shared by both Nuggets fans and Bol Bol, it was the lack of any development the past three seasons. Of course it’s easy to blame the front office and coaching staff for such a seemingly wasted investment, but I’d at least point out that the team has been in the playoff picture every one of those seasons and the unfortunate truth sometimes is that project-rookies would always have a hard time carving out relevant time on the court and a stable presence on the roster to grow. And that leads to the direct opposite situation in Detroit.
That’s not to say that this trade is going to make Bol Bol go HAM on the league either. There are still some concerns. We spoke about his character briefly, but if these issues continue, I think you can take what you see now from him and just say that’s his hard cap and call it a day. There’s also the idea that I mentioned previously, having the minutes and system to develop a player. He’ll have those very two important aspects, but keep in mind that Bol Bol will still have to follow through and actually try and reach his potential. I think the Pistons, despite some hiccups, have an okay development track record and will have a shot to work with Bol Bol and make him great. But let’s not forget that the Nuggets also have a pretty good track record of developing talent themselves. I also think back to Marcus Howard, who pretty much has all his size in his heart, and just that alone was enough to carve a spot out in the rotation. What is it that Bol Bol did, or in this case, didn’t do to make that happen?
Takes two to tango, but there are plenty of red flags here to go with the positives. So in a way, we actually are back at the beginning, with Bol Bol, still just as talented, just as flawed, and still a low-risk, high-reward play. While I remain intrigued at what Bol Bol might accomplish with some minutes on a team that can use him, I’m also tempered by the fact that he’s yet to take that next step. He has a chance here, but it’ll take more than talking about it on social media to be the star that I think he can be. And it’s going to take him and the Pistons organization to make it happen.
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him on Twitter @jaywrong.