Leandro Bolmaro has so much to offer Utah Jazz – if he can improve one (big) thing
There’s a lot to love about Leandro Bolmaro.
If you compiled a list of pros and cons for the 6ft 6in wing, the ink used on the pros side of the ledger would far outweigh the few scratches on the cons side. You would eagerly draft him, or in the case of the Utah Jazz, trade for him, just knowing all the things he does well.
There’s only one concern – and sadly, it’s the most fundamental skill, the most fundamental element of the game of basketball. Can Bolmaro score?
For a 21-year-old, Bolmaro has quite an impressive CV. The Argentine was signed and played first-team minutes for Estudiantes de Bahia – where Manu Ginobili also played professional basketball – aged just 16. He was impressive enough there to move to Europe at just 17, playing for one of the best non-NBA clubs in the world: FC Barcelona.
He started playing for Barcelona’s reserve team in the Spanish second division and then started splitting time between the first and second division at the age of 18. By 2020, he had shown enough at this level to be drafted in the first round – first by New York. Knicks with the No. 23 pick before the Knicks sent him to Minnesota in a three-team deal.
Bolmaro didn’t come to America straight away, spending another year at Barcelona. It was the best year of his career abroad, as he played 63 games for the Spanish club between the ACB (the top Spanish league, which Barcelona won that year) and the EuroLeague. He wasn’t Barcelona’s greatest player, playing just 15 minutes a night, but he stood out on the best moments: he was the winner of the ACB’s ‘Most Spectacular Player’ award, an honor selected by counting which player appears most often in the weekly. List of plays of the week.
Minnesota paid $900,000 to break Bolmaro out of his contract with Barcelona, then signed him to a rookie deal. That same summer, Bolmaro played at the Tokyo Olympics for Argentina.
In the NBA, Bolmaro was mostly out of Minnesota’s rotation, except for a two-week stretch where he had a chance – he first impressed before slowing down considerably. After Christmas, Jake Layman and Jaylen Nowell got more playing time, and Bolmaro came on the bench and spent time in the G-League.
It’s really nice to see Bolmaro playing in defense. Just listen to his former coach.
“His one-on-one defense is outstanding,” Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch told The Athletic. ” He hung up. He is fast. It is long. He is active. Boring. There are all the attributes. He is fearless. Not afraid of any confrontation. Schema-wise, he’s also very good, so he’s quite an advanced defender.
That’s truly quality praise from an NBA head coach, especially for a 21-year-old rookie. But it’s true: he tries so much on the defensive end, and he’s really smart in the way he defends without foulting an outrageous amount. He’s 6-6 with a 6-7 wingspan – reasonably well-sized for defending guards and even small forwards.
If you watch a video of his Barcelona days, ask yourself: was there a Jazz perimeter defender who made that effort on the roster last season?
While we’re here, it’s worth noting how responsible a Bolmaro rebounder is: unlike many guards, he fights low for rebounds, blocking bigger guys, staying engaged up front or back . He is also a frequent bouncer; if he thinks he is going to lose a rebound battle to a taller player, he will try to swing the ball to a teammate.
Bolmaro also has NBA-level dribbling, pick-and-roll and passing instincts – again, you can tell he’s been playing 5-on-5 basketball for a very long time.
Like here, he’s under a little pressure stepping onto the pitch, but that’s okay: he gets by. He gets in a pick and roll, then finds his rollman for an easy bucket to the edge.
He is also good at impromptu play, attacking the fences and in transition. This no-look pass sets Nowell up beautifully for a wide-open three, completely fooling the defense.
Don’t forget he was the most spectacular player in the Spanish league – most of those assists were wonderful. He doesn’t commit many turnovers either.
Ah, yes, weakness. Right now, Bolmaro just can’t score at the NBA level.
The first thing to note is the 3-point shot: critical for almost every guard in the NBA. In the NBA last season, he shot 28% from deep; in his 11 G-League games, he shot 27%. At summer league, he shot 20%. He was Barcelona’s best 3-point shooter (40%) but only took 1.6 per game.
So many things revolve around this skill. If he can’t shoot, defenders will simply go under pick and rolls, minimizing his passing effectiveness. They also won’t bother closing, preventing those cool passes like the ones above. Even former Utah Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio has shot more than 30% from deep in his last seven seasons – Bolmaro has to reach that level to be an acceptable role player.
Bolmaro isn’t a great finisher around the rim either. He just isn’t bouncy enough.
Take a look at this game: he has a pretty open baseline, but even after his injury, Jusuf Nurkic finds it easy to run into him, not particularly high in the basket.
Frankly, to be successful in the paint, he’ll have to go into full draw mode to stand a chance.
The result is a player who is less effective at scoring than nearly all perimeter players in the NBA. He averaged just 7.5 points per 36 minutes last year. The only perimeter players who played more minutes than Bolmaro with a lower total were the Golden State Warriors: Andre Iguodala and Chris Chiozza. Unfortunately, former Jazz guard Trent Forrest was a more frequent goalscorer than Bolmaro last year. He showed flashes of goals – his fourth summer league game, an 11-point burst in Game 82 last season – but needs to find it much more consistently.
It’s incredibly difficult to thread the needle to become a non-scoring but valuable player in today’s league: there are a handful of examples, but they’re perfectly suited to the situation among the top talent in the league. league. Bolmaro cannot and should not rely on this.
You can tell how Bolmaro’s basketball experience impacted his game: unlike almost every other player in the NBA, he was never really the best player on his team at any time. of his past. As a result, he’s really good at the role-playing aspects of the game – but maybe doesn’t have the scoring experience that everyone else has. I wonder then what would happen if you gave Bolmaro a full season at G-League level and asked him to be The Man. Would he have developed these skills?
If he can figure out how to score – and more importantly shoot – Bolmaro could be one of the best role players in the NBA. If he can’t, he’ll probably end up out of the league. At 21 and with three more years on his rookie contract, he has time to figure it out.
Editor’s note • This story is only available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers. Please support local journalism.