Did NBA Scouts See Enough from Bol Bol to Make Him a Top-10 Pick?

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJanuary 4, 2019

Oregon forward Kenny Wooten (14) and center Bol Bol (1) react after Bol Bol scored a three-point goal during the second half of an NCAA college basketball consolation game against Syracuse in the 2K Empire Classic, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Already the most polarizing prospect expected to declare for the 2019 NBA draft, Oregon's Bol Bol just became an even more complicated evaluation for scouts.

He is done for the year with a stress fracture to his left foot, per 247Sports' Matt Prehm, after averaging 21.0 points while pulling off moves typically executed by only one other big man taller than 7'1".

"He has Kristaps Porzingis ability," one scout told Bleacher Report. "But he could also get you fired."

"The talent is there, but it won't matter if he's not available to play," said another scout. "Big guys with foot problems have never been able to have healthy careers."

According to Bol's lawyer, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, his client will be out "eight to 10 weeks and return to basketball activities in summer."

Regardless of whether his medical reports come back clean by the draft, scouts now sound more nervous about the durability of Bol's rail-thin frame and legs.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 16: Bol Bol #1 of the Oregon Ducks celebrates his three point shot in the second half against the Syracuse Orange during the 2K Empire Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 16, 2018 in New York City.The Oregon Ducks de
Elsa/Getty Images

As much as his upside pops, this latest injury just adds more weight to the side of the measuring scale that accounts for risk, which was perceived to be high even before the injury. 

"I was already gun-shy due to intangibles," said the first scout. 

Dating back to high school, scouts have expressed concern over his desire and motor. And there have been enough possessions this season that helped illuminate his suspect defensive awareness, effort and toughness around the basket.

Over the years, he's also turned some evaluators off by regularly trying to show he can score like a guard around the perimeter instead of using his spectacular tools to impact games inside. 

However, through nine games at Oregon, Bol's perimeter game was working.

His jump shot looked convincing based on the results (13-of-25 3PT, 75.7 percent FT) and the fluidity of his release. He also flashed unique shot-creativity and shot-making versatility. And at his size, the ability to use the dribble and convert off the bounce hints at rare offensive potential—the kind that fuels today's perceived NBA unicorns.

For good measure, Bol was also effective working as a traditional big man, having shot 22-of-39 on post-ups and converted 11 of 15 putbacks. 

Assuming doctors declare him fully healed, it's possible some general managers could view this as an opportunity to buy lower on Bol.

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Heading into conference play, scouts sound mostly underwhelmed by this year's talent outside of Duke's Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. That should make teams more willing to gamble on Bol, knowing they won't be passing on any obvious cornerstones. 

He's also expected back for predraft workouts, a key chance to reassure teams that remain interested but hesitant. Chances are, he'll push the draft-stock arrow back upward in open-gym settings, where his captivating skill level can be persuasive, like it was during Porzingis' infamous workout before the 2015 draft. 

There will still be teams picking early that'll want to avoid the risk and headache and would rather bet on a prospect whose game and body are easier to picture fitting in than Bol's. 

He'll now need to ace the predraft process to maximize interest and suitors, and it's a goal he's more than capable of achieving. 

Based on responses from scouts and the projected field, an updated Bleacher Report mock draft today would still project Bol going in the late-lottery range—falling, but not too far, similar to Michael Porter Jr. last season. He's a slipping prospect, though he won't be a forgotten one. 

           

Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports.

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