For elements of three seasons in Denver, the 7-foot-2 Bol Bol stood hiding in plain sight.
Whether it was attributable to a deep Nuggets workforce, or circumstances that he admittedly may’ve dealt with higher, Bol by no means seized his likelihood in Denver. But returning as an opponent for the primary time to Ball Arena on Sunday night time, Bol spoke to The Denver Post about what he may’ve finished higher at the beginning of his profession.
It revealed a measure of accountability and maturity that hadn’t but developed earlier than a collection of trades landed him in Orlando with the upstart Magic.
Now, in a state of affairs the place there’s much less stress to carry out and an extended runway to develop, Bol is flourishing. Lost within the insanity of Nikola Jokic’s game-winning 3-pointer Sunday night time, Bol was instrumental because the Magic threatened to snap Denver’s profitable streak, ending with 17 factors in 18 minutes of labor within the Nuggets’ 119-116 win.
It was sufficient for Nuggets coach Michael Malone to method him after the sport and let him know the way proud he was of his development.
“He’s had a helluva season,” Malone stated, even floating his identify as a Most Improved candidate. But principally, Malone stated he was happy that Bol settled in a spot the place he may play by his errors and prosper.
“I root for Bol,” Malone stated. “I root for (former Nuggets guard) Gary Harris.”
At 11.8 factors and 7 rebounds per sport, Bol has rejuvenated his profession. He did so by taking ownership of what he did improper.
Before the sport tipped, Bol stood in a again hallway of Ball Arena and admitted his effort wasn’t all the time the place it wanted to be with the Nuggets.
“Yeah, I can say there was just a little bit, I really feel I may have labored quite a bit more durable,” he stated. “That was simply me being younger. That’s one of many issues I realized, it’s important to work onerous or (stuff’s) not gonna work out for you.”
But, Bol in all probability wanted his Denver expertise to reach on the success he had in Orlando.
“I believe it (was) superb for me,” he stated. “(My time in Denver) positively put me by quite a bit. Even off the courtroom and on the courtroom. But I believe everybody goes by their very own struggles.”
Even although he did not play, Bol stated being part of two separate second-round playoff groups made an influence on him. When the Nuggets made it to the convention finals within the Bubble, Bol absorbed being round that workforce, watching how Jokic behaved himself.
“Nothing’s ever fully over,” he stated when requested what he realized in Denver. “Here, individuals may assume, ‘Oh, he’ll by no means play once more.’ Here, I simply realized quite a bit from watching Jokic. That was huge for me.”
Late in Sunday’s sport, with the Nuggets up 104-103 and simply 6:13 seconds remaining, Bol crossed Jokic a step contained in the arc after which completed an uncontested, two-handed jam. Jokic by no means stood an opportunity in opposition to the rangy, virtually incomparable Bol. His uncommon mix of measurement, agility and ability has all the time made him a tantalizing prospect, however he simply wanted to mature.
After the sport, Jokic had a message for him.
“If you dunk yet another time on me, I’m gonna F him (up),” Jokic stated along with his dry reverence.
He would by no means have made that remark, and even engaged with Bol after the sport, if he did not recognize the strides Bol’s made as an expert.
In Orlando, Bol has a possibility to develop with a younger workforce on the rise. Instead of being a uncooked, unfulfilled expertise caught on the finish of the bench, he has a possibility to be a foundational piece in his new setting. It’s a possibility he hasn’t taken as a right.
“New house, new alternative for me,” he stated. “A youthful workforce. It wasn’t like right here, the place it was form of onerous for me to play as a result of they had been already a extremely good workforce, a longtime workforce, a playoff workforce. Now, I’m simply getting a re-start.”
Bol stated on event he is stayed in contact with Jamal Murray and stated he commonly retains up with Michael Porter Jr. There was a palpable, virtually boyish pleasure as Bol ready to face his former workforce.
“When I see them guys, it is like I by no means left,” Bol stated.
Maybe he had one thing to show, or perhaps he simply needed to indicate his former workforce that he wasn’t a misplaced trigger. Regardless, he is seized ownership of his profession.
“I believe I’ve modified (the notion) just a little bit, not fully but,” he stated. “… People see I can play, it is nearly alternative.”
When he seemed again on his time in Denver, he did not appear to dwell or maintain any grudges about how this chapter of his profession went.
“It’s a part of my journey,” he stated with a smile.
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