It’s official: another Australian has joined the NBA Aussie contingent today.
Jonah Bolden, who was projected to be anything from a late first-rounder to early second-rounder, did not make the first round, and was taken in 36th by the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Vertical’s Shams Charania broke the news on Twitter.
Sources: Philadelphia is selecting Jonah Bolden with the No. 36 pick in the NBA Draft.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 23, 2017
An elite jack of all trades, Bolden does everything at a decently high level, from shooting to passing and ball-handling. His versatility will definitely help Philadelphia in this modern NBA age. Like the Golden State Warriors have shown, you can never have enough capable, multi-faceted swingmen who handle a bit of everything, and the 6’10” Bolden is exactly that. Expect him to fit in flawlessly alongside fellow Australian Ben Simmons, and have plenty of playing opportunities on a rising, talented young team.
The Australian connection is strengthened with Bolden joining 76ers head coach Brett Brown and star forward Ben Simmons.
Bolden withdrew from UCLA last year, and jumpstarted his professional career in Europe with Serbia’s FMP Belgrade. He averaged 12.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1 steal per game during his season with FMP, and was also named the Adriatic League’s top prospect.
“I feel like I can provide a lot to a team,” Bolden said, in an earlier interview with The Pick and Roll. “Whether that’s coming off the bench and being an energy guy. Not even being an offensive guy, I could be a straight defence guy.
“If they want me to be a shooter I can come in, run lanes and spot up for the guys to hit me. Whatever role they want me to do and whatever needs to be done, I’ll do it.”
Earlier this week, Bolden completed his final, solitary workout in front of multiple NBA scouts, and sounded positive about how it went, despite lacklustre shooting.
“I feel like I could have done a little bit better in the workout, but I had four interviews after with different teams,” Bolden told ESPN. “That was one of the biggest reasons why teams came out here, to see how my character is, and I believe I’m a great guy, great character, so today went really well.”
Despite being looked over in the first round, it definitely sounded like Bolden made an impression with the Sixers.
Following the draft, Bolden also spoke about how the Australian connection would help his transition.
Jonah Bolden talks about the upside of having an Australian teammate, as well as a coach who's so familiar with the country. pic.twitter.com/91hhjR276R
— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) June 23, 2017
Bolden also spoke to ESPN about the need to work on upper body strength, among other things.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Bolden had told ESPN’s Nick Metallinos earlier. “Only 60 guys get to hear their name called, so for me to [potentially] get that opportunity, it’s a blessing.”
From UCLA, to Serbia, and finally the NBA. Congratulations once again to Jonah Bolden for taking his first step towards a promising NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers. Next up, the Summer League.