Suns’ Bol Bol makes strange media day proclamation

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 02: Bol Bol #11 of the Phoenix Suns poses for a portrait during NBA media day on October 02, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 02: Bol Bol #11 of the Phoenix Suns poses for a portrait during NBA media day on October 02, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Phoenix Suns’ 2023-24 media day was one that everybody enjoyed. The superstar trio of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal were in great spirits, while the front office put out a united front in talking about the recently added Jusuf Nurkic.

The fact Deandre Ayton was far away in Portland with the Trail Blazers ensured there were no awkward questions from the media or interactions with what are now his former teammates, making the whole day go off without a hitch.

With the exception of Bol Bol, who made a seemingly throwaway comment when on the podium which may be of some concern to the Suns moving forward.

There is of course no guarantee that Bol even remains on this roster. Although the argument for the various creative lineups you can build with him around are undeniable – and a whole lot of fun – the Suns are now over the limit of roster spots after acquiring four players for Ayton, with a couple sure to be cut before long.

Then again, the Suns did go out and make a point of getting Bol and signing him to a minimum deal early in the offseason, even if a much better alternative recently presented itself and was stolen right away by the Houston Rockets once they cleared waivers.

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At media day Bol came across as a shy individual. A man trapped in a larger than life frame, but who did not have the comfort levels, and experience, of being asked a ton of questions like Eric Gordon or Yuta Watanabe.

Despite this, Bol spoke just like how he plays on the court. Intriguing, likeable and somebody who you want to see do well, which hasn’t quite happened for him in the league as he looks to stick with what will be his third team at 23-years-old. When asked if he saw himself as a guard or a big at media day, Bol offered up this shy, and perhaps even worrying, answer –

Now, there is nothing wrong with saying you can do a bit of everything on the court. That is how elite players carry themselves, and there is usually truth to that statement. Nurkic for example isn’t known as a great defensive player, but he is still more than capable of being out there and defending some of the best bigs in the world, otherwise he wouldn’t be in the league.

But if Bol isn’t entirely sure where his best position is, then how could the Suns possibly know? More than that, was he signed this summer to add depth to the frontcourt, or to the guard rotation? If you asked Bol himself, and given what we’ve seen of him with the Orlando Magic last season, he seems to prefer handling and shooting the ball.

Which is great because of his size and shooting ability, but the Suns aren’t going to insert him into any group over Booker, Beal, Gordon, Watanabe or Grayson Allen. At least not in any meaningful minutes. If not a guard or wing then, is he going to back up Nurkic?

That sounds better, because Nurkic’s injury history has been well documented, and there is currently Drew Eubanks and Chimezie Metu in place to back him up. Two players who are certainly going to try hard and who have a place on this team, but who also place a limitation on how good your team can be if you ask them to do too much.

Throwing Bol into this depth chart makes more sense for the Suns as a fourth body, but Bol the player is far from ideal here. As a defender he is woeful, often caught in the wrong position and incapable of really battling back against other bigs.

The one thing he can do well is alter and block shots, but defending is about a lot more than that. If  he is your last line of defence, you’re in trouble. Especially with superstar teammates like Durant and Beal who will be doing so much on the offensive end and will need their bigs to bail them out from time to time.

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The Magic didn’t even play him down the stretch of last season, and they were only trying to make the play-in tournament. A goal they didn’t even achieve. Perhaps they too didn’t know what to do with a player who looks like he should offer so much, but in reality would rather exist as a guard than as a big with all of the hard work in the paint that comes with that.

The Suns organization aren’t going to lose too much sleep over this comment, with Bol likely to see at most 10 minutes per game to start the season. If even that. But with a head coach in Frank Vogel who will expect a level of defensive ability that Bol hasn’t shown, and with the depth of the frontcourt one injury away from being an issue, Bol needs to decide what he’s going to be.