Philadelphia 76ers: Jonah Bolden has to stop getting into foul trouble

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Though typically used as a deep reserve, if Jonah Bolden is ever going to become a consistent contributor for the Philadelphia 76ers, he has to stop fouling.

After procuring Boban Marjanovic in the Tobias Harris trade, it looked like Philadelphia 76ers‘ fans had seen the last of Jonah Bolden‘s rookie season.

With a trio of new frontcourt players inbound, including Harris, a swing forward, Mike Scott, a stretch four, and Marjanovic, a true throwback center in the classical sense, it looked like Bolden’s on-again, off-again spot in Brett Brown‘s rotation had officially come to an end.

However, when both Marjanovic and Joel Embiid went down with February injuries, Bolden was back and better than ever, playing the best basketball of his young NBA career as a ‘big ball’ center in the team’s new Ben Simmons-centric lineup.

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But Bolden, come on dude, you’ve got to stop fouling people.

Over the last three games, Bolden has logged 60 minutes of action (two starts) and has racked up 35 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks. Bolden has also been called for 13 personal fouls, good for one roughly every 4.6 minutes.

Just for context, that’s three more fouls than any other player on the team (Ben Simmons at 10), and he did so in 56 fewer minutes on the court.

Now, typically, Bolden can be pretty liberal with his fouls, as he only averages about 12.9 minutes of action a night when Brown actually chooses to play him, but when he’s required to fill a more expansive role, either as a starter or as a primary backup, Jonah just can’t keep getting into foul trouble and forcing himself off the court.

In the NBA, or really any industry, sport, or venture, the best ability is often availability, and for a rookie like Bolden with some serious upside and a very desirable skill set, having ample opportunities to showcase his stuff and force his way onto the court with more regularity.

Case and point the Sixers’ 120-117 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

While Bolden’s play was far from perfect in his second straight start in place of Embiid, as he earned a -6 RPM (the second-worst mark on the team), he still hit 3-4 from 3 point range for 12 points, and helped to force Boogie Cousins out of the paint and onto the wings, neutralizing one of the 2018-19 Warriors’ secret weapons. But after picking up his fifth foul with 8:44 left in the fourth, Brown was forced to bench his starting center for the remainder of the outing, succeeding the size advantage to Steve Kerr‘s squad, and forcing Scott, Harris, and Simmons to play ‘center by committee’ to disastrous results.

Well, technically that isn’t true, as Bolden was reinserted into the game with 10.3 seconds to go, but was subbed out almost immediately for T.J. McConnell, so that was kind of a non-factor.

Now granted, one could argue that Brown’s rotation is a big reason why Philly ultimately came up short against the best team in the league, even after holding a double-digit lead earlier in the night, and that’s a fair point, as the team only played a real center for 20 minutes of action, shrunk his bench to three players, and once again gave Jonathon Simmons the nod over James Ennis (he scored a point), but had Bolden been able to stay on the court, it’s very likely the team may have been able to match up better against the Warriors’ switch happy lineup, and maintain leverage against Kevin Durant in the paint.

Next. Ennis and Scott are perfect reserve forwards. dark

If Jonah Bolden is to become the Philadelphia 76ers’ next great reserve big swingman, capable of playing either alongside Joel Embiid or in place of him, he’s going to have to find a way to remain on the court for longer than 20 minutes of action a night, a task made a whole lot easier if he simply stops fouling people every five or so minutes.