There wasn’t a whole lot to be excited about in Denver’s 107-82 loss to the Celtics, but Bones and Bol Bol revealed a glimpse of what they can bring to the floor. Bol finished with 26 points and 9 rebounds while Hyland finished with 16 on 5-11 shooting in 25 minutes.
Denver’s summer league roster hasn’t enjoyed a lot of practice time together due to health and safety protocol issues. Hyland and Zeke Nnaji missed Denver’s first summer league game but were cleared to play on Tuesday. There were a lot of “close your eye” moments in this game especially from Nnaji but look for a bounce-back game from him because he will receive frequent opportunities to demonstrate his abilities. Although everybody individually and as a team struggled at times, they will become more comfortable playing alongside one another and maybe not get blown out by 25.
Bol Bol was the best player in a Nugget uniform yesterday, but all eyes were on Hyland as he made his professional debut. The Nuggets seemed to use him as a primary ball-handler most of the game, so he was the guy taking it up the floor and initiating the offense. Although he isn’t renowned for his playmaking tendencies, he did end up with 7 assists in 25 minutes of play which is impressive considering he arrived in Las Vegas hours before game time.
He did struggle but that is to be expected. At times, he telegraphed passes or would throw a cross-court pass easily stolen by the Celtics. He would also pass and remain stagnant on the perimeter not moving without the ball. He will learn how to ingratiate himself within the offense, but I believe Nugget coaches would like to see him move without the ball more like a Jamal Murray.
Even though they haven’t had a lot of time together, Bol Bol and Bones seemed to have a nice connection yesterday. They connected on a couple of alley-oops on the day, and they really flourished in their limited transition opportunities. It was nice to see Bones and Bol run the floor well. It appeared like they were confident in that area, but they were also intelligent on when to give the ball up and which lanes to fill.
The strengths in Hyland’s game were evident. His handle looked sharp and although he only shot 2-7 from three, you could tell was very comfortable from behind the arc. One thing I noticed and liked was his form on some catch-and-shoot opportunities. Once he received the pass, he didn’t drop the ball below his belt or take a dribble, he kept it right in line with his head. This allows for a quicker release and less time for shot blockers to impact the shot.
He wasn’t efficient from deep, but his range was on display. He showed he can hit shots a couple of feet behind the arc and did not shy away from it. Look for that to be a real strength in his game and one that can really enhance Denver’s offense if he gets playing time next season.
Deep 3 from Bones Hyland for the Nuggets! pic.twitter.com/bICmYl4RfH— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) August 11, 2021
As much as it was great to see Bones play for the first time, it was equally as great to see Bol Bol perform as well as he did. He ran the floor, rebounded, blocked shots, and shot well from the field. He shot 10 free throws and made 7, which is a nice sign that he wasn’t shying away from contact on certain possessions.
His shot was working today, especially from deep. He went 3-4 from three and a couple of those shots were very tough and contested. We know he has an uncanny ability to shoot for his size, but his ability to rebound and run in transition was also on display. He can handle the ball on the fast break but also run alongside a ball handler for an easy alley-oop.
His talent has never been in question. We know he can shoot, block shots, and handle the ball better than most players his size, but the questions remain about his physicality. He continued to get pushed off his spot, and when guarding a physical but quicker player, they would just put their head down, run right into him and create space for a layup. Overall, it was a good showing from Bol, but the same problems persist so far.