It is uniformly and fairly accurately assumed that young French big man Victor Wenbanyama will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. He’s really unlike anyone who’s come before, a witty big man at 7’3 or so who has the handle and man’s shot a foot short, along with immense defensive range.

If anything, he may be too big. But what is certain is that he is the only one.

As with any transcendental talent Victor believes to be, the hunt is fleeting. As the man sent out on a 7-footer hunt (incredibly mixed results might be called on a generous day), this latest unicorn addition will inevitably bring his passable imitators to the world. It will give you an opportunity to look inside.

But the Orlando Magic are leading the game. They may have already found it.

After an injury cut his college career short, Bol Bol, who was drafted out of Oregon, made it to the 44th pick despite being considered a lottery pick by the start of the 2019 NBA Draft. Coupled with the recent rumors about the results of his pre-draft medical report and the fact that he missed all but a few minutes of his one and only college season meeting, his sizable frame has slipped even further. Combined with the fragile assumption, we’ve seen him get completely out of the guaranteed amount, usually in a two-way contract range. And when he was eventually drafted by the Miami Heat, he was soon traded to the Denver Nuggets.

Arriving in Colorado could finally kick off Boll’s NBA career. But still, it’s not. In his three years with the Nuggets, taking a seat behind Nikola Jokic and his many reserves, Boll only appeared in 60 total games, nine of which he posted double-digit minutes. bottom. He was never in the rotation, never really in the plan – after being injured again in his third season, Boll then went once with the Boston Celtics and then once with Orlando. Once, I was salary dumped twice on top 55 expenses alone. A protected 2023 second round pick that will never be transmitted.

How much Magic has prioritized players with outstanding length in its decade-long restructuring has long been the subject of both intrigue and ridicule. And few are longer than a bol. With a height of 7’2, wingspan of 7’8, standing his reach of 9’7, and a body built for basketball, he is the epitome of frontcourt length.

But essentially, he’s played a backcourt role.

Due to the unique way Magic teams are organized this year, there are usually fewer guards than forwards. Markelle Fultz is a nightly starter at point guard, and in theory some combination of Terrence Ross, Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs could fit beside and behind him.

But in practice, like most players, Fultz remains injury-prone. As a result, some of the lineups Magic has announced this year have been frankly gigantic, no less than the first time they brought in a gigantic unit of Ross, Boll, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter and Paolo Banchero. bottom. of the first game of the season.

Magic got big when everyone else got small. And in part, this is due to Boll not playing what his measurements suggest.

Boll’s breakout has begun this season. He’s averaging 11.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for him, and does so in a nightly highlight trend. Those highlights are always on the attacking side and he shows off his game far more perimeter than just a jumper. Boll is lively and agile, and quite calm with the ball in his hands, which he uses to dribble off. This is how he is rarely seen in people over seven feet tall.

The way he shoots on the move, spins and dives into lane, and creates everything from bounces is almost Wenbanyama-esque. And all it cost Orlando were non-existent picks and a few frowns.

There should be many more. Boll’s skills are still somewhat immature (evidenced by some blocky turnovers and limited passing interest), and he glides effortlessly around the court, making his unique abilities stand out. Despite this, it’s clear that he’s still not performing very well. -No level basketball experience yet.

This is especially true on the side, which is less suitable for highlights. Don’t assume that his 7-foot-2 son of infamous shot-blocker Manute Boll is his outstanding NBA defender by default. Quite the opposite, in fact. Where Bol Bol needs to do more work is on the defensive side.

Bol’s physical profile, like Victor’s, should convey tremendous defensive potential and the ability to cover all surfaces and all types of matchups. However, the key to realizing this potential is a concerted effort to address parts of the objective that are not amenable to statistical capture (secondary efforts, tracking, closeouts, etc.). But as it stands, Boll’s defense, fundamentals, and positioning are all well behind his offensive curve, and reach only occasionally allows him to sidestep it. The same is not said of his Wembanyana,

The combination of Bol Bol and Orlando Magic is almost perfect. He’s a theoretically excellent embodiment of their length ethos, literally free to use, with no immediate interest in winning and getting plenty of development time on a team that constantly gets injured elsewhere Plus, if Jonathan Isaac can return to being a key player again in the coming weeks and cover up for some of Boll’s defensive shortcomings, the Magic will have a truly unique frontcourt, , Carter, and both Wagner brothers, six truly unique players each with their own level of intrigue.still playing favorite Victor Wenbanyama is not the same as playing good as Victor Wenbanyama.

Bol Bol is not a unicorn at this stage, but a regular horse with a party hat. His game still has tremendous advantages, and he’s beginning to realize some of them in eye-catching ways. However, he must be involved in defense in order to become part of the future.

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