The lottery picks came and went in the NBA draft on Thursday night, and Bol Bol was not among them.
Then the first round ended, and Bol was still sitting in the green room, watching.
Finally, though, the once-projected top-10 pick found a home in the NBA.
The Denver Nuggets selected Bol in the second round with the No. 44 overall pick on Thursday night, via a trade with the Miami Heat. The 19-year-old was then welcomed to the stage with a loud cheer from those fans still left at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a gesture that surprised even him.
Denver has acquired Bol Bol in a trade, league source says. https://t.co/BPtsQCDrVj— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 21, 2019
Bol — the son of former NBA star Manute Bol who, at 7-foot-7, is tied as the tallest player in league history — only played in nine games at Oregon last season due to a stress fracture in his foot. The 7-foot-2 center averaged 21 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in that time, and shot an impressive 56.1 percent from the field.
Once the injury hit, Bol naturally fell from his projected spot as a lottery pick. Still, he was predicted by many to be taken in the first round, and was even projected to go No. 20 overall in the last Yahoo Sports mock draft. His health issues, however, clearly caused many teams to hesitate, causing him to plummet down the draft board.
The late departure from the green room, however, didn’t appear to bother him. In fact, it seemed to do just the opposite.
“I just want to prove everybody wrong and just come out and be the best player I can be,” Bol said on ESPN.
Bol Bol says he just wants to "prove everybody wrong"pic.twitter.com/FmTMi0C13B— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) June 21, 2019
The move by the Nuggets marks the second-straight year they have drafted a player with significant injury concerns. Denver selected Missouri star Michael Porter Jr. with the No. 14 overall pick in last year’s draft, though Porter ended up sitting out the entire season while rehabbing a back injury he sustained with the Tigers.
Bol, though, won’t be required to step into a major role with the Nuggets right away — as star center Nikola Jokic can handle the responsibilities down low. That should give Bol the opportunity to develop at his own pace.
If things work out for Bol and the Nuggets, the organization may have pulled off one of the great steals of the 2019 NBA draft.
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