If there is one player who has failed to have much of an impact on the season the Phoenix Suns are having, it is big man Bol Bol. The young center signed on a minimum deal during the offseason, after an intriguing campaign with the Orlando Magic last season where he showed flashes of his outrageous upside.
Then again, the fact the Magic didn't seem interested in keeping him around once they got healthy and glued him to the bench down the stretch should have told us something. It is not that Bol is a bad player, but he is one who still requires a lot of nurturing. The Magic clearly didn't feel like they had the time to do this and so far have been proven right - they're currently on an eight game win streak.
With that in mind, it seemed difficult in the moment to understand why exactly the Suns were signing Bol. They are contending for a championship, and Bol's skillset and painful lack of defensive ability did not seem like a good fit with that goal in mind. Other signings such as Eric Gordon, Yuta Watanabe and Keita Bates-Diop fitting the description of a Suns role player much better.
On the other hand however, if any coach was going to be able to teach Bol the ropes defensively and find a home for him in the rotation, it was going to be Frank Vogel. His work with big men through the years well known, with his ability to build a defensive scheme that hid players like Bol also established from his time in the league.
That has not yet happened, but coach Vogel has now given an update on the future of Bol with the franchise.
Vogel was asked by Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic in the wake of the team's recent loss to the Toronto Raptors if Bol was a player that he could have used to combat the length that the Raptors have throughout their roster. He had the following to say in response;
"Bol is going to get his chance for us. There are guys ahead of him in the rotation right now, and depth chart. I thought Chimezie (Metu) and Keita (Bates-Diop) came in and gave us really good minutes. Those guys are playing well, but we're not forgetting about Bol Bol. He'll get his opportunity."- Head coach Frank Vogel
That is an encouraging update for the 24-year-old, who has barely been seen so far all season, managing just seven minutes total across three blink and you'll miss it cameos. Nice as it was for Vogel to publicly back the player, it is worrying for Bol that he has not gotten his chance already.
The Suns have had their fair share of injuries, with Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Grayson Allen all having missed time so far. Unfortunately for Bol, the injury-prone center Jusuf Nurkic has been reliable, and Drew Eubanks has been an excellent backup. The aforementioned Metu has also had some nice moments in spot minutes, and seems more trusted than Bol at this point.
Bol himself said at media day that he is not even sure what his best position is on the court, and it is most certainly not a defensive enforcer either. What he can do is handle the ball, dribble some and shoot from deep in a way that always looks strange as he unfurls his shot, but does have the ability to go in when he gets hot.
There was a period last season when the Magic were decimated by injury were Bol saw a lot of the offense go through him, and when that happened he was shooting nearly 40 percent from deep. The Magic were also not winning games at nearly the same rate in which they are now, and really Bol felt like a short-term solution for that team, albeit an intriguing one.
It was always worth the Suns taking a flyer on Bol on a minimum deal this offseason. Injuries may yet force coach Vogel's hand with the player as well. But even though he has been publicly backed - and to be fair to Bol, all he has ever done is show up and do what was asked of him - it remains to be seen how and where Vogel is going to use him.
The Suns put in a tepid display in their loss to the Raptors, and they shot less than 30 percent from deep. With Booker hobbled and Grayson Allen out through illness, surely that was a chance to deviate from the game plan and introduce Bol? That didn't happen, but according to the coaching staff, his time will come for this group. It will be fascinating to see what unfolds when he is let loose.