After turning in a solid rookie campaign in 2018-19, has Jonah Bolden fallen out of the Philadelphia 76ers’ plans moving forward?
Almost immediately dubbed the steal of the second round due to some impressive performances for the 2016 Summer League Sixers, Bolden had to wait an additional season to join the team due to a pre-existing contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv.
And in 2018-19, technically his rookie season, Bolden played pretty well.
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Granted, much of it came in a part-time role, but despite only appearing in 44 games – averaging 4.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in 14.7 points per game – there was plenty to be excited about in regards to the Australian products’ potential as a versatile two-way forward.
Starting 10 games during the regular season, mostly in place of Joel Embiid and his broken face, Bolden scored in double-digits seven times, including a particularly memorable 14 point performance in 16 minutes against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Jimmy Butler‘s revenge game, and an early April double-double against the Atlanta Hawks.
While he eventually fell out of Brett Brown‘s regular rotation once the playoffs came around, Bolden still appeared in all 10 of the 76ers’ playoff games and even surpassed double-digit minutes on three occasions.
So needless to say, when Bolden returned to the court a year older, a year-wiser, and with a full year in the Sixers’ system, fans in the 215 had high hopes that the 24-year-old power forward would be able to make strides and become a more well-rounded, full-time player.
Spoiler alert, that didn’t happen.
Through the first four months of the regular season, Bolden appeared in four games, one in October, one in November, and two in January. While this isn’t per se a sign that the team lost all faith in Bolden, as Zhaire Smith, Marial Shayok, and even Shake Milton spent the vast majority of the season in Delaware, it is rather telling that the second-year pro was consistently bypassed for the likes of an underperforming Mike Scott, a Kyle O’Quinn-y Kyle O’Quinn, and Norvel Pelle, his Blue Coats teammate signed to a two-way contract.
Now I may be a founding member of the Norvel Pelle fan club, but even I have to admit that that’s pretty telling.
To make matters worse, in the four games where Bolden actually did see the court, it was for a combined 10 minutes of action; 10 minutes ‘highlighted’ by four points, personal fouls, two turnovers, and a single rebound.
I get being rusty, heck, one would have to expect that a player would be rusty when they average 2.5 minutes a month, but how is stashing Bolden on the bench helping anyone?
On a team like the Charlotte Hornets, where minutes are abundant and wins are optional, Jonah Bolden could continue to grow upon his solid rookie season and maybe develop into a solid rotational player on a playoff-caliber roster, but on a team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who prioritize playing veterans regardless of their production, a mutual parting of ways may be the best course of action for all parties involved. Maybe the New York Knicks would like yet another power forward?