Phoenix Suns 2023-24 player grades: Bol Bol showed he belonged

With time running out to prove he belonged in the NBA, Bol Bol did enough with the Phoenix Suns in 2023-24 to stick around for some time yet.
Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Suns v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

In a 2023-24 Phoenix Suns season that promised so much and yet underwhelmed on the biggest stage, there was perhaps no player on the roster who was more beloved than Bol Bol. In his first season with the franchise, the fanbase took to him immediately and willed him on to success every time he was on the court.

As had been the case in his first four seasons in the league prior to landing in The Valley though, Bol didn't get much of a chance to prove himself. Despite having some flashes with the Orlando Magic in the prior campaign, head coach Frank Vogel didn't turn to him often in the early goings of a bumpy campaign, opting instead for tried-and-tested veterans to dig him out of a hole.

Around the turn of the year Bol saw his name called a lot more though, and he did not let the opportunity to impress get away from him.

Yes there was still some dreadful defensive possessions, and of course he was attacked mercilessly by opponents on certain nights. So much so that when the Suns fell in four games to the Minnesota Timberwolves, few had any complaints about the fact Bol barely featured.

But before that the vibes were high when he checked into the game, and he ended the season having shot an impressive 42.3 percent from deep on 1.2 attempts per game. If anything Bol should be letting it fly more often - only when you're playing with Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal - the opportunity to do so doesn't really present itself.

Really though Bol's shooting and ball-handling abilities got the Suns out of some offensive jams, and it was no surprise to see him go from 2.6 minutes per night (with plenty of DNPs in there for good measure) and less than a point scored a game in December, to 8.8 points per game in 16.5 minutes of action in February.

Defensively Vogel found a way to get by in the regular season as well, with Bol often deployed as the longest guard in the entire league. Next to Durant and Jusuf Nurkic, Bol was able to hang around outside the paint and annoy third and fourth scoring options with his length. It wasn't pretty and he was still picked on, but to be able to play for a defensive-minded coach at all was impressive.

Then there was the love from teammates and coaches, with everybody from Durant to assistant David Fizdale having nice things to say about the player. Bol always looked like he was listening and paying attention - sometimes to a fault with how hard he tried - and so it was hard not to root for a guy who clearly wants it bad.

There was some rare fruity language when it came to Victor Wembanyama which gave the enigma more personality, and already this offseason he has been seen working out with Durant and Chet Holmgren of the Oklahoma City Thunder. A potential clue that the unrestricted free agent is going to come back to Phoenix.

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It would seem to make sense for both parties - because although Bol may never be a crucial player for the organization - he seems to have found a home for the first time in his career. Perhaps new head coach Mike Budenholzer could even find more creative ways to use his unique offensive skills?

Yes he only averaged 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in only 43 games played despite being healthy for most of the season, and those playoff limitations have to be counted against him as well. But relative to the expectations set out for the 24-year-old before the season began, it was an absolute success for the player. One in which Bol likely saved his NBA career, whether that's in Phoenix or elsewhere.

2023-24 season grade: B