The Philadelphia 76ers need to give Jonah Bolden an extended shot at legitimate minutes.
There’s a sizable asterisk next to the Philadelphia 76ers‘ first win over the Toronto Raptors this season. Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka were out, leaving the Raptors shorthanded and allowing the Sixers to cruise to a home victory.
Even so, there were positives to take away. The Sixers got excellent production from Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, with the former not having to deal with Kawhi’s pesky defense at the point of attack. We also got a slight — and encouraging — taste of Jonah Bolden.
The rookie big man racked up a career-high 25 minutes in Wilson Chandler‘s absence, posting four points, nine rebounds and four blocks. It wasn’t the flashiest outing on offense, but the former second-round pick showed real value on both ends.
A hyper-versatile big, Bolden fits the Sixers’ mold well. He can run the floor, hit threes (occasionally) and make passes on the move. There’s definitely an element of rawness to him, but there’s reason to believe he can provide legitimate value to the Sixers’ thin frontcourt rotation.
With Amir Johnson on the rotational outskirts, the Sixers have relied solely on Mike Muscala for backup four and five minutes, with Simmons playing the occasional small-ball five. Adding another viable contributor to that group has been on fans’ wishlist for some time. The solution might already be on the roster.
Bolden’s four blocks highlighted his defensive activity. He can switch on the perimeter, make quick rotations underneath, and use his length to deter shots around the rim. He plays hard and is fighting for minutes. Remember Richaun Holmes?
He only took three shots against Toronto, missing his lone three-point attempt, but Bolden has value on offense as well. There’s still work to be done, but his perimeter stroke has promise and he thrives in transition, where Ben Simmons and the Sixers like to play.
In the playoffs, the Sixers will (or at least should) shift to smaller lineups when Embiid steps off the floor. Muscala will get occasional minutes, but Bolden’s activity level and willingness to run the floor could make him the ideal small-ball center in spurts. It’s worth seeing if he can carry that load yet.
The Sixers need more depth and, until something happens on the margins, it’s worth experimenting with the current roaster. It’s time for Brett Brown to give Simmons’ fellow Australian a chance to earn regular minutes.