Crow. It is a dish best served cooked. Wouldn’t want to get any salmonella, now would I?
***grabs salt and pepper***
If you are a regular reader of Bright Side of the Sun, you know that I am not what you would classify as a “Bol-iever”. His addition to the Phoenix Suns roster was as puzzling as it was perplexing and, given his track record in his previous four seasons prior to the 2023-24 campaign — and those 9 games he played in college at the University of Oregon — I had my doubts.
Then he played. And my doubts were fortified.
Lost on defense. Not physical enough on offense. A player with the intangibles to be a productive NBA player but without the developed skills to fulfill their destiny.
Bol didn’t play much after his 4:35 stretch against the Warriors, one in which he was a -16 the ‘ole +/- board. He hadn’t earned the trust of his coaching staff to garner anything more than garbage time minutes in games against the Knicks, Kings, and Rockets.
Behind the scenes, however, Bol was working. Competing hard in scrimmages and practices, he caught the eye of head coach Frank Vogel. Bol had, “strung together a really solid a few weeks,” Vogel said and, with KD tabled with hamstring tightness, Bol got his chance at redemption.
And you might say that he did, indeed redeem himself.
***gauges sharpness of knife***
It is clear that time spent with coaching, coupled with the competitive advantage one receives when practicing daily with the likes of Kevin Durant, Devin, Booker, and Bradley Beal, are paying off for Bol.
“There’s little things he’ll tell me when we play 1-on-1,” Bol said of teammate Kevin Durant. “Take my time.”
In his last two games, the guy who played a total of 19 minutes this season has averaged 19.4 minutes played. He’s shot 76.9% from the field. He’s hit 75% of his three-point attempts (3-of-4). He’s given the Suns 12.5 points and 7.0 rebounds off of the bench. And, dare I say, he’s looked pretty good doing it.
“He’s done enough to earn more looks,” Vogel said after Wednesday’s game, noting that even when KD returns, Bol should see some minutes. Why? because he’s earned them. “He wants to learn and he wants an opportunity, and he’s taking advantage of it right now.”
The best word to describe Bol’s recent evolution is “discipline”. He has been disciplined on the defensive end, not overcommitting on the weak side or losing an opposing player in transition. He’s stayed within himself on the offensive end as well, using his length to his advantage to snake around defenders and lay the ball in.
What Bol has unarguably provided is energy off of the bench. Like Bradley Beal’s return, which injected joy into the Suns’ brand of basketball, Phoenix needed someone to replace the Sam Payne-like energy from the second-team unit. Someone who got the crowd into it. Someone whose every move keeps us watching, waiting, and not in line at Wetzels Pretzels.
Bol has done that. He is the bench player that fans chant for, and when he is performing in the manner he has over the past two games, you can’t help but be happy for him.
But we still need to see more.
***cautiously pushes plate of crow away***
I’m not ready to tuck my napkin into my collar and eat crow yet, but I will say I was pleasantly surprised and delighted with his performance, both against the Blazers and in the Wednesday night loss to the Clippers. Something’s different. It is sustainable? Time will tell. But if it is? That is a mighty fine weapon coming off the bench for Phoenix.
And I’m down to eat all the crow money can buy.