Oregon Ducks center Bol Bol is dominating NCAA Division I basketball, and the New York Knicks need to pay attention.
Sure, a free agent market featuring Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and others is indeed enticing, but the draft is equally important. Teams often look to it for the missing piece, roster depth, or the cornerstone who lays the foundation for a rebuild.
The Knicks will be a lottery team this summer, meaning they’ll likely have their pick of top-10 talent. The 2019 draft class isn’t the strongest, but one Oregon center should have plenty of Knicks fans interested.
That center is none other than Bol Bol, who has become an instant sensation for the Ducks. He has size and has been dominating the court on both sides.
That said, if Bol keeps up his current pace, Knicks GM Scott Perry should be paying attention, and a lot of it, as the draft draws closer.
It runs in the family
Everyone’s probably asking this, so we’ll get it out of the way now. Yes, Bol Bol’s father is former NBA center Manute Bol.
Now, for those who didn’t grow up watching basketball in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Manute Bol was a sensation in his time.
He couldn’t score to save his life, finishing a 10-year career with an average of just 2.6 points per game. The elder Bol also wasn’t overly athletic, managing just 4.2 rebounds per contest.
What Manute Bol did have, though, was an astonishing 7’7″ height. This led the painfully skinny center to be recruited from his native Sudan to play one year of college ball at the D-II University of Bridgeport in 1984-85. The Washington Bullets made him a second-round pick that summer, and he averaged five blocks per game as a rookie.
And the son has proven he has his father’s basketball pedigree, while also being a better overall player. Bol Bol was a five-star recruit out of Nevada’s Findlay Prep, alma mater of many an NBA player, including Knicks guard Allonzo Trier. He chose Oregon over offers from several schools, including Arizona and Kentucky.
Bol, like his father, has great size at 7’2″ and is a bit more athletically built at 235 pounds. He’ll have to add some muscle ahead of turning pro, but his distinct advantage on the collegiate level has translated into excellent results. Bol is averaging 21.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game for the Ducks. Like his father, he can also hit the occasional three.
Time will tell just how high Bol’s ceiling is, but early on the results are certainly promising.
A great Knicks fit
Once talk of the 2019 NBA Draft heats up, the Knicks will have some tough decisions to make. Keep in mind, current center Enes Kanter is set to hit free agency this summer. He is averaging 14.9 points and 11.7 rebounds as he continues to show he can be a starting center. In all likelihood, once free agency begins in July, he’ll be on the hunt for a max contract.
Granted, by that point, the Knicks might decide he’s the guy they want at the 5, and Bol Bol will be off the radar, and that’s fine. Kanter will have earned his money.
But what if Kanter is injured, or just has a bad second half of the season? That opens up some doors for the Knicks at center. Mitchell Robinson has talent, but is raw and will need another year or so to develop. DeAndre Jordan could be an interesting target in free agency, but he’ll also be 31 by next season.
Enter Bol who, at this point, is projected to go third overall in NBADraft.net’s latest mock draft. Again, that all could change, but if the Knicks are in a position to pick him, they should.
Just imagine. A Knicks frontcourt of Bol, Robinson, and a fully recovered/recently extended (by then) Kristaps Porzingis. Yes, today’s NBA is one where the scoring guard is king, but the Knicks could easily break that mold.
How entertaining would it be to see teams like the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors try to outrun the Knicks, only to run head-first into the epic size that is Bol and Porzingis?
That isn’t to say both will immediately start alongside each other, but given Bol’s skillset, Perry and coach David Fizdale should start scouting him regularly.
Keep in mind, none of this is to say the New York Knicks absolutely must draft Bol Bol next summer. It’s not like he’s the be-all and end-all of the team winning a championship. He’s still young and needs to improve, particularly in the low post. When push comes to shove, scouts may decide he’s better suited to play for the Toon Squad or Mon-Stars instead of the NBA.
But as the Knicks face the prospect of needing to add some size next season, they could certainly do worse than Bol. Next summer’s unrestricted free agent class isn’t particularly strong at center. If management lets Kanter walk, the draft is the best way to find his successor.
If Bol Bol is that draft pick, all the better.