Jonah Bolden looks ready for NBA, but do Sixers have spot for him?
The 6-foot-10 Australian player is ticketed to return to play in Serbia. The 76ers roster has few openings.
LAS VEGAS – Jonah Bolden has proven that he's capable of playing for the 76ers next season.
In summer-league games, the 36th pick in the NBA draft has shown that he's the type of the player the Sixers covet.
Bolden has displayed the athleticism needed to contribute in the Sixers' up-tempo style of play. Although his shooting has been inconsistent, he possesses the shooting range needed to effectively space the floor. And the 6-foot-10 forward has showcased the stellar shot-blocking and pass-deflection skills that the team craves.
He's definitely talented enough to be a member of the 2017-18 team.
"That's what I wanted to show," said Bolden, who played this past season in Serbia.
But although things could change, he's scheduled to play with KK Crvena zvezda in Belgrade, Serbia, this coming season. The 21-year-old Australian signed a two-year contract with the professional team on June 10. If need be, Bolden won't have a problem getting out of his contract. His buyout is for $675,000.
As good as he is, the Sixers really don't have a spot for him night now. That's one of the reasons he's scheduled to play in Belgrade.
NBA rosters will expand from 15 to 17 players next season under the new collective bargaining agreement. The 16th and 17th roster spots will be two-way contracts. Two-way players will go back and forth from the NBA to the G-League, formerly the NBA Development League.
Still, it's going to be tight.
The 15 players under contract for the Sixers next season are Markelle Fultz, J.J. Redick, Amir Johnson, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Carrabot, Jerryd Bayless, Jahlil Okafor, Justin Anderson, Furkan Korkmaz, Nik Stauskas, T.J. McConnell, Richaun Holmes, and Robert Covington.
Alex Poythress is a candidate for one of the two-way deals and Bolden could be eligible as well. However, NBA teams are allowed to bring two-way players up for a maximum of 45 days. After that, they would have to sign the players to the regular 15-man roster. In that case, the Sixers would have to release someone to make room for Bolden.
Because he is slated to stay overseas for now, that gives them roster flexibility. However, the former UCLA player has been effective in the summer leagues.
Bolden struggled from the field, making just 37.9 percent of his shots in last week's three Utah Jazz Summer League games. However, he still averaged 10 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 steals, and a league-best 2.30 blocks.
In two games in the NBA Summer League, Bolden is averaging nine points on 58.3 percent shooting. He's also averaging seven rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and one block.
The only thing that Bolden hasn't been able to consistently do in both summer leagues is make three-pointers. He's shooting just 31.5 percent from deep in the five games.
But the Sixers aren't concerned. Bolden has shown that he can contribute in other ways when his shot isn't falling.
"The beauty of his intrigue is defensively he can rim-protect," said Sixers assistant Lloyd Pierce, who is coaching the summer-league squad in Vegas. "Defensively, he can get out in the perimeter to use his length and athleticism to be a pest on the ball.
"And offensively, his athleticism, he can finish around the rim, and we know that he can make three-point shots."
Bolden played for FMP Belgrade last season. Showing versatility, he played both forward positions and was named the Adriatic League's top prospect. He averaged 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds and shot 41.9 percent on three-pointers.