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Minnesota Timberwolves v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Leandro Bolmaro: Rookie Season Review

The Argentinian guard hasn’t had much success in the NBA, but has played well in the G-League.

I’ll admit, when Adam Silver announced that the New York Knicks were selecting Leandro Bolmaro with the 23rd pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, I let out a chuckle and an audible, “who?”

Little did I know...

Bolmaro’s draft profile back in 2020 was pretty strong. A versatile 6’7” player that could distribute, has a good feel for the game, feisty defender, etc. Shooting was still a work in progress, as was his game overall (as he was just 20), but he had the skills to turn into a solid player.

His position was a bit of a question mark, as he was more of a point forward-type player than a straight-up point guard. Either way, he seemed liked like a solid choice after a bit of research. He likely wasn’t going to come in and get a permanent spot in the rotation immediately, but could develop after some time.

That philosophy was reflected in his first few games. He didn’t get much run unless the games were out of hand. However, he put a beaming smile on the faces of Minnesota Timberwolves fans after this pass early in the season:

He played about 28 total minutes in his first eight games, but after the team was hit with injuries and COVID-19 infections, his minutes jumped up. In the next seven, he played 17.2 minutes per game. Although he got more playing time, he didn’t do much with it. He really struggled to score, shooting 22% from the field and averaging 1.9 points per game. It was essentially his first game action in the NBA, so an adjustment period was expected.

Although his early action in the NBA didn’t go too well, he’s played pretty well in 10 G-League games. He’s averaged 14.5 PTS, 6.2 AST and 5.3 REB, playing 32.5 minutes per game.

In a win against the Oklahoma City Blue on March 4, he finished with 21 points, 14 assists and 9 boards:

He showed flashes of capable shooting in this game, hitting three threes on six attempts. Unsurprisingly, his passing has been solid (check out the dime at the very end of that video).

Most importantly, he’s played at least 29 minutes in all but one of his G-League games. He recently played 40 in the game against the Blue. Giving Bolmaro time to learn and adjust to the NBA game is one of the first steps (if not the first step) in his development.

Continuing to let him play in the G-League is the right thing to do, especially with the Wolves’ point guard rotation being locked down with D’Angelo Russell, Patrick Beverly and Jordan McLaughlin (not just this year, but next). Then again, I suppose we shouldn't assume that Bolmaro would play point guard.

Iowa Wolves v Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

For eight of his 10 G-League games, he’s been the starting small forward. The other two he was the starting point guard.

Regardless of position, Bolmaro can be a valuable rotation player with a bit of experience under his belt. Even if his shooting remains below average, an attacking defender and quality distributor has value.

I’m picturing a lineup of Russell, Anthony Edwards, Bolmaro, Jarred Vanderbilt and Karl-Anthony Towns in which the Wolves’ ability to switch on defense is great, plus the offense has two capable facilitators in Russell and Bolmaro. The shooting would clearly suffer if Bolmaro is subbed in for McDaniels or Beasley (Bolmaro and Vanderbilt on the court together might prove to be disastrous), but it gives Finch another option.

Looking towards the future (specifically next season), if Bolmaro can become a player that is average/above average at everything but scoring, he’ll find a place in the rotation. With capable shooting and scoring around him, he could thrive in a disruptive defender/secondary ball handler role.