A new-look 76ers roster left Jonah Bolden languishing on the bench for the past three weeks. The 6’10 big man appeared in just two of the Philadelphia 76ers’ first 11 matches, logging garbage time minutes on both occasions.
Not only did Kyle O’Quinn beat Bolden to the backup centre job, but the acquisition of Al Horford allows Brett Brown to experiment with innovative lineups. If Joel Embiid is injured or having a breather, the 76ers coach opts for a smaller unit before turning to the likes of O’Quinn or Bolden.
Horford’s versatility has facilitated the rise of Turkish sharpshooter Furkan Korkmaz and defensive maestro Matisse Thybulle, largely at the expense of Bolden. Without Embiid, Brown’s 2nd and 3rd most frequent lineups feature Korkmaz and Thybulle respectively. Al Horford slides to centre in this scenario, while Tobias Harris plays power forward.
A case of déjà vu
The Sixers decided that Bolden needed a change of scenery, both for his development and match fitness. Two days prior, he was assigned to Philadelphia’s G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. The G League is familiar territory for Bolden, who first joined the Blue Coats in November of 2018. The Sydney native was in a similar situation exactly one year ago, struggling to crack the 76ers’ NBA roster.
Making his G League season debut on Saturday, Bolden unleashed his frustrations on the Long Island Nets. The 23 year old finished with 34 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals as the Blue Coats defeated Long Island by a score of 152-137. Bolden hit five of nine three point attempts, the highlight of his performance. He also finished with bragging rights over countryman Deng Adel, who was on the losing end with the Nets. Adel didn’t have the best of games, finishing with five turnovers and just eight points.
Bolden may not be in the G League for long if he continues playing at this level. He only made eight appearances for the Blue Coats last season, as Philadelphia were always quick to recall him. An extended G League stint could be beneficial for Bolden’s confidence and match fitness, as there is no room for him on the 76ers roster right now. The additions of Al Horford, Kyle O’Quinn and Matisse Thybulle have left the Sydney product in a much tougher situation compared to last season.