Denver Nuggets center Bol Bol was one of the hot topics during the first day of scrimmages as the NBA returned on Wednesday. But more than his head-turning debut against the Washington Wizards in the Orlando bubble, the 7’2 rookie big man made the headlines after he was picked by the league to undergo random drug testing following the game, stirring up speculations that the selection was not actually random, but a move caused by mere suspicion.
Citing the Nuggets PR as the source, Mike Singer of the Denver Post revealed the said development after the game. He posted:
Bol served notice in his first NBA game, racking up 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 blocks as the Nuggets defeated the Wizards 89-82.
The former University of Oregon standout was saddled by a recurring foot injury that has derailed his progress in the league since he was selected 44th overall in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft. But despite these setbacks, Bol was able to withstand the blows. In fact, he was hardly surprised by his outstanding performance, underlining the work he put in heading to the tilt at Disney World.
“I’ve been working really hard, especially since I got here in the bubble,” he said in a postgame video call via ESPN. “I was just trying not to be nervous, and then everything would just come to me.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Bol just became the only rookie to register at least 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a preseason game in 20 years.
Bol’s impressive showcase has earned the praise of Nuggets head coach Mike Malone, who then vowed to give the 20-year-old more opportunities to flaunt his arsenal with two more scrimmages left before the NBA officially restarts on July 30.
“It’s his first game against NBA competition, and for him to go out there and get 16, 10 with six blocks is great,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We put him in the middle of our zone, tried to funnel everything to him, let him block shots. He did a really good job of that. I think he got tired as the game went on, which is to be expected. He played 32 minutes, which was a team-high. But he’s only going to get better.
“He did a lot of really good things out there. Proud of him. And obviously, we’ll have two more scrimmages, and he’ll continue to get some opportunities to play, grow, and to learn against other NBA players.”
It took a while before Bol finally made headways in the NBA. One can argue that it was just a scrimmage, but the Nuggets believe the lengthy big man can provide them the much-needed boost especially when they enter the more crucial stages of the season.