Pump brakes on Bol Bol bandwagon, ESPN analyst Paul Pierce says

We pulled the Bol Bol bandwagon over to Paul Pierce’s crib, threw open the door and offered to let him ride shotgun for as long as he liked. The 10-time NBA All-Star hopped in and thanked us by rolling his left foot over to the driver’s side and pumping the brakes like there was no tomorrow.

“I’ve been around too long — too, too long — to be hyped on a couple of highlights and one good game and one good scrimmage,” Pierce, the ESPN analyst dubbed “The Truth” during his salad days with the Celtics, said Thursday.

“I mean, yeah, he’s got tremendous potential. But it’s just like the Summer League. How many guys do we see get the Summer League MVP and then they’ll be like, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s a potential All-Star, yeah, he’s got a bright future,’ and then they just turn out to be average players?”

Remember Von Wafer?

Sure you do. Summer 2007. The Nuggets signed Wafer, an ex-Florida State and Colorado 14ers sharpshooter, in April of ‘07. Dude was the hottest thing to hit the Strip since Celine Dion.

He dropped 42 in one Summer League tilt against the Knicks. The 6-foot-5 wing topped the Nuggs in scoring in ‘07, pouring in 24.2 points per game at Vegas. Von was coming. Until he wasn’t.

Once the lights went on for real, the guy averaged 1.3 points over 4.3 minutes per game in 22 appearances during the 2007-08 regular season. In February, Wafer was traded to the Blazers for Taurean Green.

Look, nobody’s tagging Bol as the second coming of Vakeaton Quamar Wafer. We’re just pointing out that we’ve been fooled before.

“The potential’s there. He’s got all the tools,” Pierce said of Bol, the Nuggs’ second-round pick in 2019, who went viral Wednesday after posting 16 points, 10 boards and six blocks against Washington.

“But I don’t look at that. I need to be there and measure his heart, his pride, his determination, his competitive spirit. I’ve got to see all of that — those are the things I really look at. Because I’ve seen guys with that whole skill set and they just didn’t have it.”

Then again, few guys had a set like this. Bol, the son of former NBA big man Manute Bol, stands 7-foot-2 with a 7-9 wingspan, blessed with the kind of crazy ceiling he can touch from his tippy-toes. A kid who can blot out the sun and spot up on the break from 20-25 feet out.

Like teammate Michael Porter Jr., Bol’s a “stretch” big and a matchup nightmare, having averaged 21 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest at Oregon in 2018-19 while more than holding his own this past winter in the G-League (12 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks over 19.3 minutes per game). In eight appearances with the Windy City Bulls, he drained 36.4% of his attempts from beyond the arc. And he’s 20.

“They have so many players up front and what you’re trying to do is find who’s going to be the most compatible with the Joker,” ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said, a nod to All-Star center Nikola Jokic. “If Bol can make an open shot and continue to guard the rim, he, (Mason) Plumlee, Michael Porter Jr., all three of those guys — in particular, Bol Bol and Michael Porter Jr., if those two emerge, that takes the Nuggets to another level.

“Gary Harris didn’t have the season you hoped for him to have, and they don’t have a consistent second All-Star. And they’re going to need Bol Bol’s potential. I don’t know if he’s going to be that impact player for them to get there this year. But I do like his promise, his height, his ability to make threes and protect the rim.”

Still, one scrimmage does not an All-Star make. Remember Von? Wafer used to light up the G-League, too. Until he didn’t.

“I mean, the potential is there, and I like that,” Pierce said of Bol. “But I’m not one who’s going to be all jumping out of my seat after I see one highlight. I’ve got to see it through the course of 82 games. I’ve got to see it through the course of playing against all the competition.

“That’s practice. I’m just seeing practice games out there. My boy down the street there can have one good day.”

Sometimes, the Truth hurts.

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