Aussies in NBA: Bolden impresses defensively in Summer League debut

A number of athletic defensive efforts have highlighted what was an impressive Summer League debut from Aussie Jonah Bolden.

The forward, who was taken with the 36th overall pick by the Sixers in the most recent NBA draft, recorded four blocks in his 22 minutes of action against Boston. He also scored 9 points on 4-10 shooting and pulled down 4 rebounds.

Despite starting the game on the bench, Bolden was instrumental throughout the game for Philly. He played the majority of the fourth quarter, including down the stretch thanks in large part to his play defensively. His length and athleticism troubled Boston around the rim for much of the contest. He made a number of plays in which he slid across from the weak side to block or challenge shots. His ability to get over to contest shots so effectively seemed to surprise the Celtics and was a testament to both his footwork and 7'3 wingspan.

However, Bolden also racked up 6 personal fouls throughout the contest. Usually, this would have resulted in Bolden being forced to the bench but players are allocated 10 fouls for Summer League. Two thoughts come from this; the first being Bolden may struggle with foul trouble if he challenges the amount of shots he does. The second — and probably most accurate — is that Bolden knew he had 10 fouls to play with and simply decided it was worth gambling on a number of contests.

A staple of Bolden's game whilst in Europe was his ability to judge the ball off the rim for put back slams. He showed this in his Summer League debut, jamming home a miss from fellow rookie Markelle Fultz in the third quarter.

Bolden went 1-4 from downtown during the contest, however has the range to knock down shots from distance. He shot almost 42% from three for FMP Beograd in the Adriatic League last season.

The game itself was a back-and-forth encounter featuring the first and third overall picks in the 2017 NBA draft, Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum. The Celtics eventually came out on top 89-88 thanks to a Tatum go-ahead jumper with 5 seconds remaining.

It's always difficult to judge just how much stock to put into a Summer League game. However, Bolden showed both Aussie and Philly fans that he has a skill set that matches that of the modern NBA. A 6'10 forward who can defend around the rim, run out on the fast break, stretch the floor and create for himself.

Bolden and the Sixers take to the floor again on Thursday when they play the Utah Jazz.

[More: Read how Dante Exum's opening Summer League game fared]