If you ignore the fit on the pitch and focus on the entertainment factor, the signing of Bol Bol starts to make sense.
The Magic waived Bol Bol on Tuesday, and the news got more attention than it probably should have, especially on Twitter. There was a split between some fans who asked their team’s front office to sign him, while others appeared surprised that people were so interested in a guy who hasn’t been very good in the NBA.
I was firmly in the last group, but then I changed my mind. Not because I think adding Bol is a good idea if the goal is to improve the guard, mind you, but for other, less orthodox reasons.
Victor Wembanyama could use a really tall friend
Most of the people reading this will be of average height. That’s how it works. Most of us don’t really need to worry about how short or tall we are. However, Victor Wembanyama has had to deal with it ever since he was a kid, and unlike most other basketball players, he will still have to worry about it even in the NBA. Have you seen Victor looking huge with David Robinson and Tim Duncan?
Now, Vic’s height is a huge plus in his field, so why would anyone think it could be a negative? Well, I had a friend who was taller than everyone else in our class in high school, and he developed an inkling because he was constantly falling to not stand out. What if Wembanyama sees that his tallest teammate is Zach Collins, who is about six inches shorter than him, and feels like a freak just as he’s starting to get more attention than ever? Spurs fans certainly don’t want him to develop a problem with his self-image or posture!
Enter Bol Bol. The former Magic big man is 7’2″, short enough that Wemby will still be the tallest, but tall enough to make him look average in pictures. The Spurs could simply sign Bol Bol to stand around Wembanyama when he gets interviewed or just around the dressing room. That Bol is still young and talented is a bonus. If he drops out, great. If he doesn’t, he’ll at least help Wembanyama’s self-esteem. It should be worth a few million if the year.
Any highlight the couple has together will instantly break the internet
Unless something terrible happens or he becomes a viable overnight rotation player, Bol won’t share the court with Wembanyama often. Neither is a traditional center at this point, and moving one of them to small forward wouldn’t make sense given that neither are world-beaters from beyond the arc, and the Spurs have a bunch players who can man that space. The sight of two beanpole bigs running together would be great, but mostly it would be one or the other on the floor, and Victor is obviously going to nod off.
However, there would be that random night when fate would put the two together on the floor for something special. It’s not hard to imagine. Bol blocks a shot. Opponents recover it and go for another shot and then Victor blocks it. The Spurs get the ball back and go on a fast break. There’s some sort of impressive dunk—ideally an alley-oop from one big to the other—and the crowd goes wild. The clip has been posted online and is spreading like crazy. Memes are being made about the new Spurs’ twin towers. If it happens early enough in the season, fans will go crazy believing the two will dominate together. It’s fun for everyone.
Wembanyama will have plenty of big highlights on his own, but two rail-thin seven-footers with guard skills are a tough combination to beat when it comes to virality. The Spurs can’t let Aleksej Pokusevski and Chet Holmgren get all the attention, especially since it would hurt to see a cutaway to Patty Mills giving up his towel after every highlight.
The Spurs just aren’t weird enough anymore
Bol probably won’t be very good in the NBA. He has fought on two different teams, so and there are questions about his commitment to improving. He’s tall, he’s talented and he’s funny, but he’s not someone who’s likely to be a long-term piece for the Spurs. The thing is, who cares?
San Antonio has a lot of young players who are already good and a few who should be decent. What’s missing is a flawed but tantalizing prospect that teases enough potential to get the fanbase irrationally invested. Remember Lonnie Walker IV? In four years in San Antonio, he averaged about nine points, two rebounds and an assist and a half per game, less than a memorable stat line. But he could jump really high and would take over for a half in some random play and everyone would get excited. It is fun!
There was no such person on the list last season, so the fans had to make do with Romeo Langford or Sandro Mamukelashvili. This year, Blake Wesley might be able to fill that role, but it would be better to have a backup plan, just in case, and Bol Bol would excel in that job. In the final minutes of a blowout, we could all be clamoring for more minutes for the big man. I can already see the articles about him turning around when he has a few good games when someone is out with an injury.
Give us someone to argue about, Brian Wright!
So there you have it. Is it a good idea for Spurs to chase Bol Bol to strengthen their young core? Not really. Would it be fun, at least for a while, to have him around? No doubt. Is that a good enough reason for the front office to actually add him? Probably not, but we can dream.