As this year's NBA Draft draws near, teams throughout the NBA will be looking for that next "diamond in the rough" prospect that can come out of nowhere and become productive players. On Saturday, we examined the top performances of the NBA Draft Combine, which is the mecca for teams looking for potential 2nd round steals. While I pretty much covered the gamut of those prospects, there was one particular player that I missed: Weber State's Joel Bolomboy.
That exclusion was due to Bolomboy only shining in Friday's game, while the other prospects were consistent throughout the two days. However, that Friday performance proved why Bolomboy's considered as a viable NBA Draft prospect as he finished with a 10 point and 9 rebound performance. He accomplished that through hustling on the offensive boards and driving past Providence big Ben Bentil, who's a potential 1st round player
If you watched any of Bolomby's career with Weber State, then you shouldn't be surprised that he's a versatile player. As evident in the clip below, Bolomboy can produce in a variety of different ways: posting up on the left and right block, crashing the offensive glass, making off-ball cuts and hitting the 20-foot jumper. Bolomboy looks really confident when he's posting up as he does a nice job of quickly scoping out the court for open options before he looks to score. Following that, Bolomboy utilizes two different tactics to score: putting up a hook shot from both the left and right block and doing a drop step to cause separation from the opponent. While he'll need to continue grow and implement some additional moves, Bolomboy was an efficient back-to-the-basket weapon, as he averaged more than a point per possession
Bolomboy's best trait is definitely his work as an offensive rebounder, as he combines great awareness with tenacity to be an absolute menace on the boards. Averaging 3.3 offensive rebounds per game, Bolomboy ranks 2nd amongst NBA Draft prospects, as he only trails New Mexico State forward Pascal Siakam.
While his tenacity on his offensive glass is his biggest trait, Bolomboy's NBA potential rests on his ability to be a weapon inside the pick-and-roll. For a 6'9 forward, Bolomboy moves well as he exhibits quickness and solid leaping ability which he used to complete a multitude of alley-oops. Per Synergy Sports, Bolomboy converted 69% of his attempts inside the paint when he was working in the half-court, and 71% while in transition. Alongside that ability as a cutter rests Bolomboy's work as a shooter.
During his senior year, Bolomboy showed a consistent knack for knocking down the 18-20 foot jumper while stretching out for the occasional perimeter jumper. On 97 career three-point attempts, Bolomboy hit a respectable 37%. While it's a an incredible small sample size, NBA teams should be at least intrigued by his potential.
One issue pertaining to Bolomboy's jump shot is the little hitch that he has in the top of his shot. While he finishes with a high release and his body positioning seems just fine, he'll just have to make some minor tweaks on the top of that stroke before it becomes perfect.
On the other end of the floor, Bolomboy is definitely a mixed bag. The mixture of Bolomboy's strength, length, athleticism, explosiveness and motor are the ingredients that all NBA teams look for in a front-court player. However, Bolomboy rarely made the impact that you'd figure a player with his physical tools would have. He blocked only 1.1 shots per game, which actually puts him behind Duke forward Brandon Ingram and Seton Hall PG Isaiah Whitehead. Perhaps that's due to a lack of defensive awareness, but you'd really expect him to produce at a better rate defensively with all the natural traits that he possesses.
Despite some of the glaring flaws in his overall game, Joel Bolomboy has the attributes to eventually become a solid bench big. Just based solely off his athleticism and competitive fire, Bolomboy can work as an energy big that can come in and just be a menace on the offensive and defensive glass. However, he'll need to find a way to address the concerns facing his defensive awareness and the hitch in his jumper. Because addressing those issues might mean the difference between him potentially looking for work overseas or hearing his name called at the NBA Draft in June.