A 6’7” lanky guard with surprising passing chops out of Argentina? Who does that remind you of?
Ok, that’s definitely a stretch. Leandro Bolmaro’s also right handed, and has played all of 23 games with FC Barcelona’s first team. Across games in the ACB and EuroLeague, he’s battled to get into the rotation a primary ball-handler, showing many flashes of that good stuff, “potential”. Is that enough for the Jazz to draft him?
Because Bolmaro has played such few games, and we’re midway through the 2020-21 Spanish ACB/EuroLeague season, I’ve used stats from the 19 non-cup games that Bolmaro’s played over the least two seasons, as appearing on Sports-Reference.
Per game: 3.1 points, 1.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks, 1.2 turnovers, 32.8/23.5/93.8 shooting splits
Advanced: Not enough data for meaningful advanced stats
Physical: 20 years old (turns 21 next September), 6’7” with a 6’9” wingspan, 185 pounds
The first thing you might think after seeing those stats are, “Wow, this draft must be insanely weak if a guy playing like that is considered by many to be worthy of a first round pick.” And yes, that’s partially true. But Bolmaro is definitely than the stats show. He’s played only about 12 minutes a game due to the European bias towards older, more established players, and not being the game-changing talent of Luka Doncic or even Ricky Rubio, hasn’t truly had the opportunity to truly show off his abilities.
Thus, this pick is really dependent on what you think Bolmaro’s potential is. He shows a lot of great flashes, such as 8 points and 10 assists in 27 minutes recently - each number a career high in the ACB. His feel for the game and passing chops are excellent, using his height to see over players and make the right reads. Whenever he is on the floor, Barcelona has entrusted him with the ball, which is quite rare given the European style. As a younger player, you would also expect his defense to be bad, but watching the tape, that’s actually likely one of his best attributes right now. He’s done an excellent job defending opposing guards for arguably the best team in the EuroLeague, using his size to his advantage. Our sister site for the Atlanta Hawks, PeachTree Hoops, has put together a fantastic series of clips and analysis that are worth perusing for more detail.
Even though Bolmaro’s mechanics look quite good, his stats are just ghastly for such a player. Most prominent here is his shooting - look at that shot chart. While everyone knows that it’s hard to get in a rhythm with few minutes, it’s distressing that his career high of 8 points was achieved while making only 1 field goal on 5 attempts, instead making 6 of 6 free throws. His attempts at the rim look weak, due to his relative lack of strength. His distance shooting is also terrible, starting from 17.4% shooter in his first professional season to a 28.1% shooter two years later (again, small sample size alert). He’s supposedly best in the midrange, which is not the best area of strength for the modern NBA. In total, there’s just not enough good data, and the data that is there does not paint a pretty picture.
He probably should stay in the EuroLeague for further development, but I suppose there’s no time like now to get into the draft, when most teams can’t really take the time to do deep dives and in-person visits. He can coast off of the hype of potential, get drafted, and try to develop into an impactful player.
Best case, Leandro Bolmaro turns into Spencer Dinwiddie, with maybe shades of his countryman Manu. That’s a player the Jazz have been clamoring for to complement Donovan Mitchell, but getting to 75% of that level might take 3-4 years, which is a timeline that really doesn’t fit with Rudy Gobert and co. And, worst case? I see Dante Exum with less athleticism. That’s a pretty low floor. While it’s worth noting that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Manu Ginobili had similar (though slightly better) counting stats in the Greek 2nd League and Italian 2nd League when they were drafted, for every Giannis and Manu, there’s dozens of Dragan Benders, Dante Exums, and Darko Milicics.
In general, I think folks are overrating him because of people overlooked the “potential” Luka had. But Luka was the EuroLeague MVP, at a younger age, and Bolmaro can barely get on the floor. The Jazz don’t need to swing for the fences like this; I would hard pass on Bolmaro unless he could be picked up for a late second round pick, draft-and-stash style.
Stats from NBADraft.Net and Sports Reference. Shot chart from NBA.com.