Why Jonah Bolden's G League recall hasn't resulted in 76ers minutes yet
Jonah Bolden’s second year in the NBA hasn’t been smooth sailing. We have reached the midway point of the 2019-20 season, and the 24 year old has appeared just twice for Philadelphia, logging garbage time minutes on both occasions. The 76ers have instead assigned Bolden to their G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, on multiple occasions.
Bolden’s G League form hasn’t warranted a place in the Sixers’ rotation. The 6’10 big man is averaging just 11.6 points and 6.9 rebounds across 14 games for the Blue Coats, figures which have fallen from the season prior. Last year Bolden contributed 15.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in the G League, lasting just eight games before Philadelphia recalled him.
In fairness, the Sydney native is playing just 24.7 minutes per game, which is down from 31.0 last season, but nonetheless his G League numbers leave a lot to be desired. The 76ers recalled Bolden on the 6th of January, although seemingly without purpose. Bolden hasn’t appeared in a single NBA game since returning to the Sixers, even though Joel Embiid has been out since January 7 with a hand injury.
What’s next for Bolden?
Al Horford’s versatility is a major blow to Bolden’s hopes of logging NBA minutes. Even in the absence of Joel Embiid, 76ers coach Brett Brown isn’t relying on a backup centre. Rather, Brown has experimented with alternative lineups, starting players such as Mike Scott and Matisse Thybulle. Not only is Horford capable of playing centre, but Tobias Harris has shifted to power forward in Embiid’s absence.
Even if Brett Brown were to opt for a back up centre, Bolden isn’t next in line. Kyle O’Quinn has leapfrogged the Australian in Philadelphia’s pecking order, a further blow to his NBA ambitions. Another G League stint likely beckons for Bolden, and he may be playing to save his future in the NBA. Having fallen out of Philadelphia’s rotation, the Sydney native could potentially use a change of scenery.
Bolden is currently contracted by the 76ers through to the end of the 2021/22 season. If the Sixers front office deems him to be surplus to requirements, we might see the 6’10 Aussie on the trading block soon. He doesn’t appear to be in Brett Brown’s plans at the moment, a far cry from his rookie year.
Bolden recorded 44 appearances and 10 starts in the NBA last season, making his sophomore campaign somewhat underwhelming. If he returns to the G League and shows some form however, the big man might just keep his NBA hopes alive. The remainder of the 2019/20 season is critical.