Bol Bol

Southeast Notes: Bol, Kuzma, Hornets, Capela

Bol Bol is enjoying a breakout season with the Magic after three frustrating years in Denver and he accepts the blame for things not working out better with the Nuggets, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Bol was a second-round pick in 2019 and was acquired by Denver in a draft-night trade. Even though the organization was excited about his combination of size and skill, he only appeared in 53 total games before being traded last January.

“Yeah, I can say there was a little bit, I feel I could’ve worked a lot harder,” Bol said. “That was just me being young. That’s one of the things I learned, you have to work hard or (stuff’s) not gonna work out for you.”

Bol was dealt twice prior to last year’s deadline and ended up with a rebuilding Orlando team that gave him a better opportunity to develop. He wasn’t able to play for the Magic last season because of injuries, but he has generated Most Improved Player talk this year, averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds in 39 games.

“New space, new opportunity for me,” Bol explained. “A younger team. It wasn’t like (Denver), where it was kind of hard for me to play because they were already a really good team, an established team, a playoff team. Now, I’m just getting a restart.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • In an interview with Ava Wallace of The Washington Post, Kyle Kuzma says he’s willing to consider re-signing with the Wizards when he becomes a free agent this summer. “Yeah, 100 percent, for sure,” Kuzma responded. “For me, it’s all about my growth and how I can improve. That’s the thing I’m always chasing — trying to get better.” There has been speculation that Kuzma will be looking for a change of scenery once he declines his $13MM player option for next season.
  • Mental mistakes have played a role in the Hornets‘ collapse into the worst team in the East, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The roster is similar to the one that reached the play-in tournament the past two seasons, but players are having trouble staying focused for 48 minutes. “It’s just the discipline that we lack,” Dennis Smith Jr. said. “Ever since coming into the league, I was always taught ‘game plan discipline, game plan discipline.’ So, whatever the game plan is we’ve got to follow that to a ‘T.’ We show that whenever we do that we are a capable team.”
  • Hawks center Clint Capela plans to return for Monday afternoon’s contest against the Heat after missing the past 10 games with an injured calf, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. Capela, who has been limited to 27 games this season, will be on a minutes restriction.

Eastern Notes: Barnes, Bol, Kispert, Tucker

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, last season’s Rookie of the Year, has sparked the team during its recent upswing, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. Barnes has reached the 20-point mark in three of the last four games. Just as important, he’s been setting up his teammates. He had a combined 22 assists in those outings and is averaging 5.4 assists this month.

“He’s an offense creator and we need him to be that,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “That doesn’t mean shooting, that means creating shots for others and creating good movement for others.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic big man Bol Bol has returned to the rotation after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols and sitting out five games, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel writes. “I’ve been feeling good so far,” said Bol, who played 18 minutes on Friday. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I feel pretty fine, honestly.”
  • Wizards forward Corey Kispert has made half of his 3-point attempts over the last seven games and that’s forcing opponents to make adjustments, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Knicks limited him to four long-range attempts on Friday because of extra defensive attention. “I feel great, the best I’ve felt in my career shooting the ball for sure. I’m really, really happy with where my jump shot is,” Kispert said.
  • P.J. Tucker was the Sixers’ biggest offseason acquisition via the free agent market but he’s often benched during the fourth quarter. Tucker admits that the criticism he’s taken has been difficult, considering his limited offensive role, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. “Can you imagine playing 30 minutes and taking one shot? Maybe not shooting at all? And still having to guard the best player and do all the dirty stuff?” Tucker said.

Health Updates: Luka, LeBron, Bam, Smart, Vassell, Bol

Luka Doncic is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s contest at the Clippers, the Mavericks announced (via Twitter). The star guard is dealing with left ankle soreness.

Doncic is one of the NBA’s best players and a leading MVP candidate, so obviously his potential absence would be detrimental to the team’s chances — Dallas has gone 0-4 this season without him, including Sunday’s loss at Oklahoma City.

The 23-year-old is having a remarkable season. Through 37 games (36.9 MPG), he’s averaging a league-leading 34.0 PPG, plus 8.8 RPG, 8.7 APG and 1.6 SPG on .499/.355/.742 shooting. The points, steals, FG% and 3PT% are all career highs, as is his 61.3 true shooting percentage.

The Mavs are currently 23-18, the No. 4 seed in the West.

Here are some more health updates from around the NBA:

  • After previously being downgraded to questionable with left ankle soreness, Lakers star LeBron James has now been ruled out for tonight’s matchup at Denver, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. In his 20th season, the reigning Western Conference player of the week is averaging 29.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 6.7 APG and 1.0 SPG on .510/.295/.756 shooting through 31 games (35.9 MPG).
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo has a right hand injury, which is why he sat out the final 5:11 of Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (subscriber link). Adebayo said he’s actually been dealing with it for a few days, but the injury was aggravated in the first half. “I don’t know how he’ll feel tomorrow,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There was a really hard hand contusion in the first half and he tried to gut it out in the second half, and you could see he was basically playing with one hand. It was just extremely sore. So I had to make that tough call and take the decision out of his hands in the fourth quarter and we’ll just evaluate him tomorrow.” Adebayo said X-rays were negative, and an MRI on Monday revealed a wrist contusion, but nothing more serious. He’s officially listed as questionable for Tuesday’s contest vs. the Thunder, according to Chiang (Twitter link).
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been ruled out of Monday’s game against Chicago, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Smart is dealing with a left knee contusion. Fellow guards Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon should see an uptick in minutes with Smart sidelined.
  • The Spurs didn’t announce a timeline for Devin Vassell‘s return following knee surgery, but head coach Gregg Popovich said on Friday that the third-year guard is expected to be back later this season. “I’m thinking maybe a little after the All-Star break,” he said, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).
  • Forward Bol Bol has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and will rejoin the Magic for Tuesday’s contest at Portland, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link). Bol will ultimately miss four games after entering the protocols last Tuesday — he’s out for tonight’s matchup at Sacramento. The 23-year-old is having a breakout fourth season for Orlando, averaging 12.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG and 1.6 BPG on .588/.388/.739 shooting through 37 games (32 starts, 26.1 MPG).

Injury Updates: Beal, Martin, Bol, Gilgeous-Alexander, James

Bradley Beal returned to action on Tuesday after missing three games due to left hamstring soreness. However, the Wizards’ franchise player aggravated the injury and didn’t finish out the game, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets.

We have more injury news:

  • The Hornets’ Cody Martin is listed as questionable to play against Memphis on Wednesday, Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Martin played one minute in the season opener, then was sidelined by a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery in November, but it appears he’s on the verge of returning.
  • Magic big man Bol Bol was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday, according to Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. He will miss Wednesday’s home contest against the Thunder and possibly more games beyond that.
  • Thunder star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed the team’s game against Boston on Tuesday due to a non-COVID illness, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets. Oklahoma City did just fine without him, setting a franchise record with 150 points.
  • LeBron James is listed as questionable to play against Miami on Wednesday due to left ankle soreness, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. The Lakers’ superstar scored 43 points in 40 minutes against Charlotte on Monday.

Magic Notes: M. Wagner, Hampton, Bol, Banchero

Moritz Wagner‘s Magic teammates say he does a lot of things that don’t show up in the box score, including annoying his opponents, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. The latest example came Friday night when Celtics forward Al Horford was ejected and given a Flagrant 2 foul after elbowing Wagner in the stomach.

“He plays with an unlimited amount of energy and he’s just out there yelling, getting on the ground, frustrating the other team — just all the little things you have to have,” Paolo Banchero said. “You have to have a player like that who’s bringing that energy and has that intensity no matter what.”

Orlando has won four in a row after a 6-20 start and has been playing better since Wagner joined the starting lineup eight games ago. He’s averaging 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists since the move while shooting 54.9% from the field and 36.1% on three-pointers. Wagner will be a free agent next summer, but he may be inclined to re-sign with the Magic and continue playing alongside his younger brother.

“He’s a lot more skilled than I think people realize,” Banchero added. “He’s a super smart player. Him and his brother [Franz Wagner] are very smart and cerebral. They have very good awareness of what’s going on in the game. Not just what they’re doing, what their man is doing, they know what’s going on with your man and what they see you doing. They’re just very aware.”

There’s more on the Magic:

  • R.J. Hampton is back with the team after playing G League games on Thursday and Friday, Price adds. Hampton has been out of the rotation in Orlando and requested the assignment with the Lakeland Magic as a way to get more playing time.
  • Bol Bol is displaying the combination of size and athleticism that has scouts raving about Victor Wembanyama, observes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Bol, who has emerged as a candidate for Most Improved Player in his first full season with the Magic, says he never got a chance to display his skills during his two and a half years in Denver. “Yeah, I had all of this,” he said. “It’s just I haven’t really been able to show it because I’ve been on the bench for the last couple of years. Now that they’ve given me the opportunity, I’ve just been trying to get better each game and I think it’s been showing.”
  • Before he was drafted by Orlando, Banchero got some valuable advice from Celtics star and fellow Duke alum Jayson Tatum, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “When I play against good players or good teams they kind of have a little bit of extra motivation to try to stop me or make it hard for me,” Banchero said. “That’s something Jayson told me right away, before I even got to the NBA. It’s helped a lot.”

Southeast Notes: Bogdanovic, Bol, Wizards, Richards

Hawks wing Bogdan Bogdanovic is expected to return to action and make his season debut within “the next few games,” general manager Landry Fields said this morning on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta (Twitter link via Mike Conti).

Bogdanovic has spent the last several months recovering after having undergone knee surgery in May. Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted over the weekend that the 30-year-old was getting some five-on-five work in with a combination of teammates and player development coaches, a sign that he was moving closer to a return.

The Hawks are in Orlando on Wednesday before returning to Atlanta for a brief homestand against the Nuggets on Friday and the Thunder on Monday. We’ll have to wait for further updates from the team to see if Bogdanovic is ready to play in either of those games.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Once considered a potential lottery pick, Bol Bol fell to No. 44 in the 2019 draft due to health concerns, and injuries limited him to 53 games in his first three NBA seasons. But the Magic big man is showing this season that he was worth the hype and worth the wait, writes Damian Burchardt of The Ringer. As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype details, Bol is drawing rave reviews from teammates (Paolo Banchero) and opponents (Kevin Durant) alike, having boosted his averages to 13.5 PPG and 7.9 RPG on .601/.419/.767 shooting through 21 games (27.1 MPG) this season.
  • The Wizards, 11-10 so far this season, have been a “quintessentially average NBA team,” according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who says Washington has shown intriguing promise but still has its share of flaws. According to Kristaps Porzingis, it’s important that the club doesn’t let its focus wane during games. “If we want to be a top-five, top-six team (in the East), then we have to be on at all times,” he said. “We cannot let some of these games slip. But we’ll get there. We’ll get there.”
  • After playing just 430 total minutes in his first two NBA seasons, Hornets big man Nick Richards is already on the verge of surpassing that number in year three, having logged 413 minutes in his first 21 games. While he has shown this fall that he deserves a rotation spot, Richards doesn’t blame the Hornets for being patient with him, as he tells Spencer Davies of “Honestly I feel like the first two years were really good, were really more important years for me,” he said. “I sat back and learned from my vets that are in front of me. Just watched them and how they play on the floor, and just try to duplicate that.”

Southeast Notes: Carter Jr., Cain, Heat Arena, Bol

Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. said that he’d been dealing with right plantar fascia for a few weeks before it sidelined him, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets.

“There’s really no specific thing you can put on it to stop it from hurting,” he said. “It’s just about tolerance, putting heat on it and stuff like that.”

Carter, who is averaging 16.6 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists, has missed three of the last four games.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jamal Cain, one of the Heat‘s two-way players, says that being a 23-year-old rookie makes him better prepared for the ups and downs of his pro career than a younger newcomer, he told Spencer Davies of Basketball News in a lengthy feature. “When you’re young, you want everything to come so fast, you want everything to be perfect,” Cain said. “But after going through college and going through those ups and downs and realizing that my journey is going to be tough… it’s not going to be all perfect.” Cain has appeared in five games with Miami this season.
  • Miami-Dade County has filed a motion in federal court to immediately terminate the FTX Arena naming rights agreement, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. The Heat and Miami-Dade County chose to sever ties with cryptocurrency giant FTX after the company filed for bankruptcy.
  • Bol Bol is making a bid for the league’s Most Improved Player award and he believes that improved health has led to his breakout season, Andrew Lopez of ESPN writes. The Magic big man is averaging 13.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. “Now that I’ve been healthy,” Bol said, “I feel like I’ve just been getting better every single day.”

Southeast Notes: Banchero, Bol, Hachimura, Cain, Time Change

Top pick Paolo Banchero is off to a terrific start for the Magic but he might miss a game for the first time on Wednesday. He’s questionable to play against Dallas due to a left ankle sprain, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets.

Banchero is averaging 23.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game for the 2-9 Magic, who already have a handful of players out due to injuries.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Bol Bol has emerged as a candidate for the league’s Most Improved Player award, Josh Cohen of the team’s website writes. The 22-year-old big man played in just 14 games for Denver last season but has seen action in all of the Magic‘s games this season, including six starts. He’s averaging 11.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per night. “I think there’s so much more that he can show, but the one thing that I really appreciate about him and what he’s done is he’s just accepted whatever we are asking him to do, and he does it willingly,” head coach Jamahl Mosley said. Bol, acquired from Boston last season, is on a two-year contract but his $2.2MM salary for next season is not guaranteed.
  • Rui Hachimura has looked more comfortable coming off the bench this season, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards forward contributed 16 points in 26 minutes against Charlotte on Monday. For the season, he’s shooting 46.2% from the field. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer if the team extends a qualifying offer.
  • Miami rookie Jamal Cain is on a tw0-way contract and he will have to get used to bouncing back and forth between the NBA and G League, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel details. The Heat‘s G League team is in Sioux Falls. “It tests you mentally,” Caleb Martin said. “You might be going down and playing 30-plus minutes and you might be coming up and watching the whole game. It’s just a good way to keep your mind ready.”
  • Due to tropical storm Nicole, the Magic-Mavericks game on Wednesday has been moved up to 5:30 p.m. ET, the Magic’s PR department tweets.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Butler, Young, Murray, Banchero, Bol

The Heat stumbled a little out of the gate this season, losing five of their first seven games, including three of four at home. However, star swingman Jimmy Butler was unfazed by the team’s slow start, as he told Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“We’re still going to win the championship, and I don’t care what nobody says,” Butler said before the Heat beat Golden State on Tuesday. “Count us out. We’re going to win the f—ing championship. I’m telling you. I don’t give a damn that we started 2-5.”

While the Heat didn’t have much roster turnover this offseason, Butler said the team is still “different” this year, with P.J. Tucker gone and several players taking on new roles. According to Butler, some “growing pains” are to be expected.

“Y’all will look back at this, and be like, oh man, they started 2-5 and they ended the season f—ing 77-5,” he joked.

The Heat are 2-0 since Butler spoke to Amick, beating Sacramento on Wednesday without him in the lineup — he sat out due to left hip tightness.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hawks star Trae Young was scratched in the left eye during Wednesday’s win over New York, but doesn’t think he’ll miss any time due to the injury, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays. “I think I’ll be able to play through it,” Young said, noting that Atlanta doesn’t play again until Saturday. “It’s more just letting the swelling go down. … I’ll probably have to wear goggles or glasses for some games, but it’ll be all right.”
  • With Young banged up, Dejounte Murray enjoyed his best game since joining the Hawks, racking up 36 points, nine assists, and five steals in a 13-point win. As Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, Murray has been emerging as one of the team’s leaders despite having only played eight games with Atlanta so far.
  • In an appearance on teammate R.J. Hampton‘s podcast, Magic rookie forward Paolo Banchero said that he intends to represent Italy in international competitions, according to Orazio Cauchi of Banchero wasn’t born or raised in Italy, but is of Italian descent on his father’s side. “I’m planning to play for the Italian national team, I’m not sure when,” Banchero said. “I haven’t been out there yet, but man, the amount of love I’m getting from there it’s crazy, man. It’s crazy. I can’t wait to go to Italy.”
  • It came as a bit of a surprise when the Magic re-signed Bol Bol to a two-year contract with a guaranteed 2022/23 salary after acquiring him in what seemed to be a salary-dump deal at last season’s deadline, but the oft-injured big man has been playing and producing so far this season. Nekias Duncan of celebrates that fact and takes a closer look at the role Bol is playing in Orlando.

Southeast Notes: Oladipo, Hayward, Kispert, Bol

Heat reserve guard Victor Oladipo, still dealing with left knee tendinosis, will miss at least the first seven contests of the 2022/23 season, as he will not be joining his Miami teammates on their upcoming three-game road trip, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

Miami will next play at home on November 1 against the reigning champion Warriors. Oladipo, who has undergone two knee surgeries since 2019, signed a two-year, $18.2MM deal to remain with the Heat during the 2022 offseason.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • With several Hornets players missing games due to injuries and Miles Bridges unsigned due to legal issues, Charlotte is relying heavily on Gordon Hayward, writes Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (subscription required). Through three games, the injury-prone 6’7″ veteran small forward has responded well, averaging 19.3 PPG on .550/.300/.786 shooting splits. The 32-year-old vet is also chipping in 4.7 APG and 3.3 RPG.
  • Wizards small forward Corey Kispert, still rehabilitating from a left ankle sprain, has practiced with Washington’s G League affiliate club, the Capital City Go-Go, per Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link). The No. 15 pick in the 2021 draft out of Gonzaga, Kispert averaged 8.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 1.1 APG across 77 games during his 2021/22 rookie campaign with Washington. The 23-year-old has yet to play for the 2-1 Wizards.
  • Magic forward/center Bol Bol is doing his darnedest to carve out a definitive role, despite limited run, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. For Orlando, the 22-year-old has appeared in 10+ minutes a night across four straight contests for the first time in his NBA career, according to Price. Bol, who boasts a 7’7″ wingspan, is averaging 10.0 PPG on 65.4% field goal shooting, along with 4.8 RPG, across 16 MPG. “It’s been very important for me because I feel like every game I’ve gotten better,” Bol said of his more consistent playing time.“I’m seeing stuff happen each game. The game’s starting to slow down the more I play.”