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1 pleasant surprise standing out for Nuggets early in 2021 NBA training camp

Nuggets NBA Training Camp Breakout, Bol Bol

The 2021-22 NBA season will be an interesting one for the Denver Nuggets as they’ll try their best to navigate through the year without Jamal Murray. His absence gives a lot of fans reasons to worry. But at the same time, Nuggets diehards are not in a panic as they have league MVP Nikola Jokic in the fold, as well as Michael Porter Jr. who’s bound to have a breakout year.

Nuggets NBA Training Camp Breakout

Apart from these two players, we should also keep an eye for big man Bol Bol, the 7-foot-2 center who’s been a fan favorite since donning the Nuggets jersey in 2019. This might finally be the year that Mike Malone will field him not just to hype up the fans, but to actually become an intrinsic part of the offense and defense.

Mike Malone’s comments in training camp gave us a glimpse of what the youngster has been like in his stint with the Nuggets. According to him, Bol’s talent has always been pretty obvious. In his limited minutes, fans saw that Bol is not just your ordinary center who blocks shots and scores in the paint. He’s someone who has next-level handles and can actually lead the break at times. However, from Malone’s point of view, what’s been lacking in Bol is putting in the extra effort to achieve consistency.

From the looks of it, this is the main reason why Bol — amid being a Nuggets fan favorite — has seen very limited game time in his first two seasons in the NBA. In his rookie year, he played a mere seven games and averaged 12.4 minutes per contest. In his sophomore year, Bol played 32 games (2 starts) but played just 5.0 minutes per contest. In Malone’s system, as well as other NBA coaches as well, you will only get ample playing time if he sees you putting in the work. Following this logic, we can say that Bol has not put in the work required of him.

It wasn’t just Malone who shared this view. Even Porter Jr. felt that Bol’s size, length, and agility could help the team in so many ways. Porter believes that if Bol could be more active, they could stuff the stat sheet in a blink of an eye.

Interestingly, the big man agreed with Malone and Porter’s observation. In his third year in the NBA, Bol now has a good understanding of what it takes to be an NBA player. Talent alone will never cut it. A good game or two will only raise eyebrows for a day or two. The goal is to make an impact for the entire year. This self-awareness goes a long way. Bol himself knows that’s missing from him. And he alone knows how to fill this void for the Nuggets.

This change in attitude could be the beginning of something new for Bol. And it comes at a perfect time when the Nuggets will enter a season without one of their best players. As always, time will tell how and how much the change in Bol will impact the game. More importantly, will this be enough to finally gain the trust of Mike Malone? Will he finally field Bol 12-15 minutes per game? We may have to wait for the regular season to kick off and observe the games. But at this point in time, all signs lead to yes.