Nuggets GM Tim Connelly Says Bol Bol Was Top-10 on Draft Board Despite Injury

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IIIJune 21, 2019

Bol Bol, a freshman basketball player from Oregon, attends the NBA Draft media availability, Wednesday, June 19, 2019, in New York. The draft will be held Thursday, June 20. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The Denver Nuggets traded for Bol Bol once the Miami Heat selected him with 44th overall pick in Thursday night's 2019 NBA draft. 

However, according to Brandon Ewing of Mile High Sports, the Nuggets would have drafted him themselves if they could, as the 7'2" center out of Oregon was "much, much higher" on their board. Said Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, who referred to 2018 first-rounder Michael Porter Jr.: 

"There was injury concerns, you heard that last year (laughs). The draft is funny, you do the best you can to kind of plan and map out how the night is going to progress and one pick can turn into a 10-pick free-fall. We are not concerned as to why [Bol Bol] fell, we feel very fortunate that he fell.

"As the night progressed, we got pretty aggressive. He was a guy we circled much higher on the board. So, I'm not sure (why he fell), but certainly we didn't have him where we picked him, we had him much, much higher."

ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony echoed that sentiment on The Lowe Post podcast, saying Connelly had told him Bol was "top-10 on their board" (h/t RealGM). 

Being top-10 on a draft board would have raised fewer eyebrows prior to his suffering a season-ending stress fracture in his left foot nine games into his freshman season at Oregon. The son of the late 7'7" NBA big man Manute Bol was the No. 4 player in the 2018 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.

According to James Crepea of The Oregonian, the 19-year-old led the Ducks in scoring at 21.0 points per game as well as rebounding (9.6) and blocks (2.7) in those nine games. 

As Connelly alluded to, this is the second consecutive year the Nuggets have taken a chance on an injured top-tier prospect in the draft. Last year, at No. 14 overall, Denver took Porter, who only played in three games at Missouri because of a nagging back injury.

The good news for the Nuggets seems to be that Bol's recovery won't take nearly as long. Porter missed the entire season and just announced he is ready to play in the NBA Summer League in two weeks.

"My foot is 100 percent healed," Bol told reporters. "I just recently started getting back on the court, like a month ago. I've slowly just been doing workouts. My plan is hopefully play this season, but it's up to my team."

Once the Nuggets do decide to let Bol play, as The Ringer's Rodger Sherman wrote, their gamble on his injury history should pay off: 

"At 19, he already possesses an offensive arsenal that should make him a gamebreaker in the modern NBA.

And Bol's career won't resemble anybody else's—especially not his father's. Manute carved out 10 years as a role player despite never developing much of an offensive repertoire. The range of possibilities for Bol is wide, but it seems like the least likely scenario for his future is that he manages a 10-year career as a role player. Bol is clearly one of the most talented players in the draft, but teams are scared by his medical future; he's a big man whose lone college season was derailed by a foot injury."

Bol was the Nuggets' only selection in this year's draft, but with All-Star Nikola Jokic starting at center, there won't be an urge to rush him onto the court.