Bol Bol: Defense
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite. Our composite scouting notes help provide context for our grades.
Bol doesn’t have great agility on the perimeter or strength on the interior, making on-ball defense a challenge for him. However he does have an incredible wingspan and standing reach that allow him to be effective despite his shortcomings. By giving perimeter players a cushion it gives him enough time to slide his feet and use his length to disrupt their options. He struggles to change directions laterally, so it’s key for him to keep ball handlers at a distance. In the post he yields deep position with little to no resistance, but with his reach he can contest, alter, and block shots simply through verticality. Additionally, his long arms could be put to use fronting the opponent and denying them the ball, endeavoring to avoid that situation entirely.
Although he moves his feet well for his size, Bol struggles to stop his momentum. This can leave him vulnerable to cuts or to blow-bys when closing out aggressively. Additionally, his lack of strength can make navigating off-ball actions difficult and holding position nearly impossible.
Bol’s length provides him an advantage few others possess as a help defender. Often his presence alone can make opponents think twice before attacking the rim. That said, the threat of his rim protection may be a more effective tool than his actual presence. Although he blocks many shots he doesn’t exactly assert himself in the paint. His below average reaction time paired with his lack of explosiveness can leave him flat-footed against a strong, decisive move, something he will encounter far more often at the next level. He also tends to be a liability when rotating out to the perimeter. Similar to his finishing, these flaws don’t erase his size; he still makes a clear impact in this area. However, they do hold him back from having an elite impact in an area that should be a major strength.
Below average agility paired with poor technique leads to problems for Bol when switched onto smaller, quicker players. Too often he allows the ball to get too close, and once in contact with the offensive player he struggles to cut them off and gives up driving lanes. When he utilizes his length to keep the ball at bay he is more successful, but this does not project to be a strength long-term.
High impact plays
While he likely will never be quite the shot-blocker his father was, Bol has proven to be a problem for opposing teams around the rim. His long arms enable him to remain on the ground a beat longer than most defenders, waiting for the offensive player to commit then blocking or altering their shot. His length helps out in the passing lanes as well, leading to a solid number of steals and deflections for a big man.