The Cleveland Cavaliers’ biggest weakness for years has been their inability to defend the paint. That could all change if Cleveland selects the University of Oregon’s Bol Bol with what’s on pace to be one of the top picks in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Bol is the son of shot-blocker extraordinaire Manute Bol, one of the most interesting players in NBA history because he’s one of the two tallest players in NBA history at 7-foot-7 but also because of the mystery about his exact age when he played in the NBA. Bol, a native of South Sudan, was said to have entered the league at 23-years-old. However, his former head coach at Cleveland State told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlogs that he made up Bol’s birthday because neither knew how old he was and he believes that Bol was really in his 40s.
Bol, a two-time block champion, is currently ranked 15th all-time in career blocks with 2,086 and is the only player in NBA history to have more blocks than points in his NBA career.
The younger Bol, who is 18-years-old, is 7-foot-3 and has a 7-foot-8 wingspan. Though he’s not the most athletic big man you’ll find, which he can show when he’s defending pick-and-rolls, he’s coordinated and moves with a recognizable fluidity on the court.
Of course, at his height, Bol is one of the best rim-protectors, rebounders and finishers that you’ll find at the center position. That should translate to the NBA, whether he had the skillset of Kristaps Porzingis or Boban Marjanovic, who are both 7-foot-3.
However, Bol’s ability to knock down shots from three-point range, make plays off-the-bounce and create for others with his elite shot-blocking, rebounding and finishing ability are what really set him apart from the pack. He hasn’t shown Porzingis’ level of offensive prowess, to be frank.
Nonetheless, he’s a playmaking center who has a knack for putting the ball in the basket and players like him don’t come along often.
For the Cavaliers, Bol is the fabled unicorn center who provides them with the offensive weapon they need to stretch the floor for slashers or open up space for shooters. He’s a bail out option for players on the drive. He also can control the paint on defense in ways that Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr., who were great shot-blockers at the college level, have shown they can’t because of their lack the size.
He’s not going to be the standalone homerun piece the team needs but he’ll be the key to everything they want to accomplish, no matter who else is on the roster. Unlike Cleveland’s backcourt, wing or forward positions, there’s a clear need for a replacement player.
Thompson’s screens, mobility and rebounding have been key to many Cavaliers victories. Nance’s defensive versatility and finishing ability have turned him into a cornerstone piece in Cleveland’s eyes.
However, neither player can stretch the floor or protect the rim and those two qualities, above all others, are what they need from the center position.
Bol provides exactly that and more.