Jonah Bolden withdraws from FIBA World Cup competition

The Philadelphia 76ers’ most notable World Cup attendee will no longer attend.

As the FIBA World Cup approaches, rosters are being finalized. Unfortunately for Philadelphia 76ers fans and Australians alike, Jonah Bolden will not join the Boomers in China. He left the team and returned to the U.S. for personal reasons, according to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Roy Ward.

The move comes as a surprise. Most expected Bolden to contribute in a significant role for the Boomers, adding much-needed athleticism on the front line. He apparently impressed in scrimmages, using his length and mobility to provide a disruptive force.

Bolden’s summer has been swept under the rug in a busy Sixers offseason, but he’s an important part of Philadelphia’s young talent crop. Beyond Zhaire Smith and Matisse Thybulle, Bolden is the most important under-24 prospect on the roster.

Even with Al Horford and Kyle O’Quinn on board, the Sixers could benefit from additional security in the frontcourt. O’Quinn doesn’t project as a long-term option, while both Horford and Joel Embiid need built-in rest during the regular season.

In the evolving NBA, Bolden has a valuable skill package. He can switch on the perimeter defensively, but also has the length to bother shots inside. It’s just a matter of adding core strength and cutting down on needless fouls.

On offense, Bolden can stretch the floor, handle in straight-line drives and pass on the move. While he’s not polished, those are hallmark skills of modern NBA bigs. He fits Philadelphia’s up-tempo, movement-centric offense. He still has plenty of room for growth.

While international basketball carries a certain level of risk, Bolden is someone who could benefit from World Cup experience. He’s young and isn’t expected to receive major minutes next season, which limits the potential downside of overexertion that stars might face.

As Team USA traverses the rocky waters of being without a star, there’s more room for an upset than normal. That’s where Bolden’s departure stings. Australia is thought to be a chief contender in the medal discussion.

With Joe Ingles, Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova among those anchoring the rotation, the Boomers have real NBA talent. Bolden was set to get significant minutes in a much broader role than we have seen in Philadelphia. It would have been not only a valuable learning tool, but a great chance for further evaluation of a young prospect.

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At the very least, there’s a good chance Bolden returns to Australia for the 2020 Olympics. Until then, thoughts are with him — whatever the personal reasons might be.

Published at Mon, 19 Aug 2019 20:00:32 +0000

Source: Jonah Bolden withdraws from FIBA World Cup competition.

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