Observing Jonah Bolden in an Adriatic League Game

March 7, 2017

By Alan Lu

Recently, I decided to take the time to scout Jonah Bolden, a 6-10 Australian born big man that plays for FMP Beograd.  He had played one season at UCLA before leaving to play professionally overseas, and he has recently been getting some buzz as a second round candidate for the upcoming draft.  I wanted to take the time to analyze his strengths and weaknesses to get a better feel for his game.  With thanks to YouTube via ABA liga j.t.d., I was able to see him play against Cibona in an Adriatic League game that was played on January 29th this year.

Jonah Bolden is a very good shooter that can really space the floor for his team.  He excelled at knocking down pull-up threes from beyond the arc, as he has a nifty pump fake and crossover move in his arsenal, and he may often use a step back move to create space between him and his defender.  He struggled more to make jumpers off the catch, but Bolden generally showed a solid ability to make shots from long distance.

He also showed a good ability to score on hustle plays.  Bolden can really run the floor, as he can do so effortlessly, and he showed great hands to catch a quick, long pass to score on a thunderous alley-oop dunk on the break.  But sometimes though, he can miss shots wildly around the basket, as he may not always play under control.

He also showed a very good ability to score in the low post.  He managed to score on a turnaround jump hook after using a drop step move once.  Another time, he caught a tough pass, and he used a pivot move to quickly score off of another drop step move due to possessing very good hands, footwork, and shooting touch.

Also, Bolden showed off solid playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that can be so to a fault sometimes, and he will often make quick passes to open shooters to set up plenty of scoring chances for his teammates.  He also throws really crisp, accurate outlet passes, as he can make deep throws to set up scoring opportunities on the break.  He also will set many on-ball and off-ball screens, as he will often pop off of them, and he can free up shooters in the process.  But he also committed a couple of turnovers off the dribble mostly due to carelessness.

Plus, he also rebounded the ball well.  Bolden was quite active on the glass, especially on the defensive end, as he would often quickly leap up to haul them in, and sometimes he would push the pace by bringing the ball up the floor afterwards.  He will box out his opponents at times, and he possesses good length, athleticism, and instincts to collect rebounds.  But sometimes, he can get beat for rebounds, and he also allowed a put back score once.

He may also be a decent defensive player.  Bolden did a good job of rotating to block shots inside the paint, as he possessed good length and timing to do so, which can allow him to force misses.  Plus, he showed the ability to collect steals, as he can poke balls away, and he can catch loose balls off of tipped passes.  Also, he will occasionally help trap and pressure ball handlers up the floor, which can force the opposition to commit turnovers in their own back court.

However, he may struggle to defend more when he is out on the perimeter.  He will give his man too much space, as he may tend to sag too far, as he can allow his opponents to make easy interior passes to big men.  He then will occasionally over play the shot, which can cause him to get beat off the dribble to allow scores and free throws.  Another time, he over-helped in the paint and left his own man open to allow a three-point basket.

In general, Jonah Bolden is an intriguing prospect, as he is an athletic big man that can shoot threes, run the floor, and rebound.  But sometimes, his effort on defense appeared to be lacking, even though he mostly showed a good motor on the offensive end.  Still, Bolden could very well fit today’s modern NBA, as he could potentially be a good find for a team in the late first to the second round range of the upcoming draft.

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