Die-hard NBA fans and players alike have been talking about the 3-point shooting, shot-blocking, highlight-producing big man all season.
No, not Victor Wembanyama — the one that’s already in the league and playing for the Magic.
For all of the hype surrounding Wembanyama, who will likely be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Bol Bol is doing some similar things. At least, that’s what his teammates think.
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Paolo Banchero made headlines for trying to draw attention to Bol’s accomplishments during a HoopsHype interview with Michael Scotto in late November.
“Everyone talks about the Victor dude from France,” Banchero told HoopsHype. “I’m not trying to compare them, but Bol’s 7-foot-2, shoots threes, brings it up the court, makes passes and blocks shots. I feel like people kind of forget about him, but Bol’s a freak of nature.”
Weeks later, Banchero still firmly believes that Bol is that special type of player.
“Bol’s a unicorn,” Banchero told The Sporting News. “Like I tried to say, you don’t want to compare them because obviously they’re different in a lot of ways, but I think Bol Bol, he’s finally getting a chance to show his stuff and have the freedom to play his game.
“It’s been nothing but positives. Him learning and growing, it really being his first year to be able to play how he wants to play.”
Teammate Wendell Carter Jr. doubled down on Banchero’s assessment, insisting that Bol can do many of the same things as Wembanyama.
“I don’t think it’s a wild comparison at all,” Carter said. “The big thing about Victor is that he’s 7-4 and plays like a guard. Bol can do that same thing. It will be better to compare them once [Wembanyama] gets into the league. You can really get a feel for him then.
“But as of right now, s—, Bol can do all the stuff Victor does.”
The Magic may be gassing up their guy, but there’s no denying that Bol has made massive improvements this season and generated some amazing highlights.
Has there ever been a 7-2 big man who could take it coast-to-coast, spin through traffic and throw it down like this?
Bol Bol are you SERIOUS?? pic.twitter.com/A5yVTPj0eX
— NBA (@NBA) December 15, 2022
Or put an excellent defender like Fred VanVleet on skates with a crossover, then throw it over his head to a teammate for a wide open 3-pointer?
💫 Bol Bol with the handle and a slick dish.
RAPTORS – MAGIC Q1 live now on the NBA App
📲 https://t.co/1pomR04bRi pic.twitter.com/Ij1O1Awpsz
— NBA (@NBA) December 10, 2022
How about this behind-the-back dribble and step-back 3?
— NBA UK (@NBAUK) November 5, 2022
These types of extraordinary plays have become more and more commonplace for Bol, who is averaging a career-high 12.1 points in 26.2 minutes per game for the Magic this season. The 23-year-old has gone from an oddity who fell into the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft to a legitimate rotation player capable of rim protection and instant offense.
What else makes Bol so special? According to Magic coach Jamahl Mosley, Bol is a matchup nightmare for other teams.
“I think he’s truly unique,” Mosley said. “You look at his size and ability to handle the basketball, his ability to run the floor. He can shoot it. He has a great basketball IQ.
“Those elements of what he provides give a different look for different teams. He becomes a matchup problem for a lot of teams. So, just finding where he fits has been interesting. But he’s been fitting in with these guys really well.”
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Banchero stands at 6-10, but even he can’t really affect Bol’s shot.
“In the summer, preseason and stuff, I guarded him a little bit,” Banchero said. “You gotta hope he misses because he’s so tall, he’s going to shoot over the top of you.”
Bol may not be Wembanyama, but he is special in his own right. When asked about the comparison between the two, Mosley wasn’t quite willing to go there yet. Instead, he smiled and offered up an answer that would make any politician proud.
“I think Bol Bol is a really unique basketball player who I enjoy coaching.”
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