Jonah Bolden is set to be the next Aussie basketball star with a likely future in the NBA. The multi-talented forward has declared for the NBA Draft as an early entry candidate and is poised to fulfil his hoop dreams.
Bolden’s journey has been challenging, to say the least, but the young man can flat out ball. At 6’10” and 103 kg, he possesses all the physical tools needed to succeed in the NBA. Jonah possesses the same tenacity and rebounding skills that his father Bruce displayed in the NBL but the younger Bolden can shoot the rock, rebound, pass and defend even better than his old man.
Bruce joined us on a recent podcast to help us understand how Jonah’s game has developed over the years and what type of a player he could be in the NBA.
“Since under 12’s he’s always been a ball handler. Obviously we didn’t know back then he’d grow to be 6’11 then but he can start and finish the fast break, he can create for teammates and he’s a very good defender with long arms and big strides.” Bolden describing son Jonah’s game.
His arsenal also includes shooting beyond the three-point line and good ball-handling skills for a big man. He plays the small forward position and is deemed as a two-way player versatile enough to defend all wing and front court positions.
Born and raised in Melbourne, Jonah Anthony Bolden moved to Sydney under the tutelage of his father Bruce, a seasoned veteran who played seventeen successful years in the NBL for the Eastside Spectres, Westside Saints, Sydney Kings and West Sydney Razorbacks among others.
Jonah and his family shifted to Sydney when Bruce was signed by the Sydney Kings to bring leadership to the squad and hopefully the first NBL championship to New South Wales.
Ultimately this wasn’t to be (Illawarra beat him to the punch in 2001) and Bruce then moved to play with cross-town rivals, the West Sydney Razorbacks in the early 2000’s.
Jonah, now 20-years old, developed his game while playing for Findlay Prep and Brewster Academy in high school.
His play was highly scouted and rewarded with a scholarship to UCLA and the prestigious Bruins basketball program.
Due to some technical NCAA eligibility issues, Bolden was forced to redshirt his freshman year, but in his sophomore year, he finally got to showcase flashes of his potential.
Despite playing out of position as a centre and power forward, he worked hard and focused on what he can control on the court. In his lone season, Bolden played an average of 21 minutes and delivered 4.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block and shot 41% from the field and 73% from the line.
Not eye-popping stats, but there was a greater expectation that was not met with all that hype.
After close consultation with his inner circle, Bolden withdrew from UCLA for a chance to play as a professional in Europe. His decision to leave UCLA made headlines, but it was a choice he needed to make.
It was probably the best move for Bolden because it gave him every opportunity to play more minutes at his preferred position.
FMP Belgrade soon signed Bolden in 2016. It proved to be a masterstroke as he became the top NBA prospect in the Adriatic League.
In only 25 games, Bolden averaged 27 minutes per night and delivered 12.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 block and 1 steal, making 47% of his field goals and 41% from the three point line. It was a breakout season for him. That small sample was enough to retain the interest of many NBA scouts.
At this stage of the draft, Bolden has been tabbed as a sleeper pick, but Bolden brings so much versatility, length, athleticism and great character to the table. Some mock drafts on the Internet have placed Bolden as a prospective selection in the second round.
Bleacher Report ranks him as a #43 pick, Draft Express at #46 and NBADraft.net expect him to be selected at pick #59.
The way the game is being played nowadays, the value for a big forward that can stretch the defence with their shooting and guard multiple positions on the court would be a premium in the league. Bolden has it.
Destiny will come calling when NBA commissioner Adam Silver calls out names at the upcoming NBA Draft on June 22 in New York City. NBA Aussie stars Patty Mills, Ben Simmons, Thon Maker, Dante Exum, Matthew Delladova, Aaron Baynes and Joe Ingles will soon be joined by Bolden, with the possibility of even becoming a future teammate.
“If you look at the 2020 Olympic team, that could feature some serious athleticism with the likes of Ben Simmons, Dante (Exum), Thon Maker a part of the team. That’s a team that I have no doubt could vie for a medal” said Bruce Bolden.
Which teams are willing to gamble on this hidden gem? His skill set is too hard to pass up, but we will find out in over a fortnight if the NBA scouts did their homework.
Some of the NBA clubs that come to mind include the LA Lakers (#28 1st round pick), who are littered with big players like Mozgov, Black, Randle and Zubac but lack shooting touch beyond the arc. OKC, Portland, LA Clippers and Miami Heat could be seeking a stretch forward, while the Chicago Bulls (who owns the #38 pick) whose lack of athleticism and ranked among the worst 3-point shooting team in the league could throw a speculator and take on Bolden.
Jonah Bolden is going to be in the L one way or another. He will contribute, no doubt about it. He has the size, the strength, the shooting ability and the handles. With the right fit, one of the NBA teams could very well find themselves a major steal in the upcoming NBA Draft. Jonah Bolden is ready to play.
As Notorious BIG said, if you don’t know, now you know.