I’ve been working in the P&T coal mines for almost eight years now, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a prospect profile. Something changed this year, however. For one, I’m super bored. More than boredom, though, it was love that brought me to this prospect.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have a bit of an obsession with Argentine basketball. Pablo Prigioni is my god, of course, but I’ve long believed the Argentines play a superior brand of ball. Is it a coincidence that the Knicks haven’t made the playoffs — or even contended — since they last had an Argentine on the roster?
Sadly, there haven’t been many Argentine prospects coming up through the NBA ranks of late. This year, however, one intrepid young gaucho has moseyed into the first-round picture. His name: Leandro Bolmaro.
Bolmaro is a 6’7” shooting guard who plays for Barcelona of the Spanish ACB. Barcelona is one of the top teams in Europe, which meant Bolmaro also got some seasoning in the Euroleague, though he spent most of the past season with Barcelona II in the lower Spanish league.
His stats, courtesy of RealGM:
Let’s break down the kid’s game, shall we?
The first thing that stands out about Bolmaro’s game is his passing, which can be summed up with words like “creative”, “absurd”, “ballsy” and “borderline reckless.” Bolmaro isn’t a point guard, but he has every imaginable pass in his bag, including some passes you probably never even dreamed of. This has unfortunately caused some to compare him to fellow Argentine Manu Ginobili. While it’s not fair to compare him to compare Bolmaro to a future Hall of Famer, the kid has a similar sense of flair.
Watching Bolmaro play in juniors and the lower levels, you often see teammates caught unawares by his passes. Here, the big cannot finish. Replace that kid with Mitchell Robinson, and you have an easy dunk.
Bolmaro can throw the long-distance bounce pass with either hand. The second video is the most impressive pass, while the third video gets bonus points for him first blowing up the attempted dribble hand-off and swiping the ball from the opponent.
Little lefty bouncepass of the dribble from Bolmaro pic.twitter.com/BSTWbwpNBA— Dennis (@Dennis_TTG) June 29, 2020
Here we have the casual between-the-legs pocket pass (0:37 mark):
Leandro Bolmaro's passing remains my favorite part of his skill set. Just finished this game from 7.23.19 in which he displayed, yet again, his excellent vision + creativity.— Derek Murray (@dmurrayNBA) June 14, 2020
And yes, in clip #5 he did go between the legs.@BolmaroLeandro pic.twitter.com/NdBwu4TegZ
I’m not even sure how to describe this play. It’s obviously not something you would teach a young player to do. I’m not sure how he saw the second teammate behind the teammate who was right in front of him.
As you can imagine with passes like these, Bolmaro is prone to turning the ball over. He makes some dumb mistakes with his passes. That is something he should hopefully improve on with age and experience. And, honestly, I don’t even care that much about the turnovers. It’s a small price to pay for making basketball fun. When was the last time the Knicks had a guy with that kind of sauce?
In many ways, Bolmaro is the polar opposite of fellow shooting guard RJ Barrett (except the outside shooting, unfortunately), and I say that without trying to disparage either player. They just have opposing strengths and weaknesses. You can see this particularly when each player is driving to the basket. While RJ is an absolute tank who relies on straight-line drives, Bolmaro is shifty as hell, quick through traffic, and once again, absolutely unafraid to try any trick at any time. He can drive in either direction and finish with either hand (again, something that RJ struggles to do). He has no hops whatsoever, but can still get the job done around the basket.
I needed a Bolmaro game in my life today. pic.twitter.com/Nb8w9dXQ9U— Bucks Draft (@DraftBucks) June 14, 2020
Leandro Bolmaro (6-8, G -FC Barcelona, 2000) has PG skills with 6-8 height and good athleticism. He is almost unstoppable when he drives to the basket at this level. He can finish with both hands and he has an excellent footwork. He still needs to improve his shooting from depth. pic.twitter.com/BDBgdHg5A1— SpanishHoops (@spanishoops) February 9, 2020
So here’s the bad news: Bolmaro can’t shoot. He hit a paltry 29.3% of his attempts from beyond the arc last season. I’m not a shot doctor, so I can’t tell you what’s going on — his shot doesn’t look that bad to my amateur eyes. If you believe this scouting video (discusses his shooting around the 8:14 mark), Bolmaro struggles with his shooting rhythm and is better shooting off the dribble than off the catch. He shot 71.1% on only 38 total free throw attempts this season, so that ain’t worth much.
One thing I can say about Bolmaro’s jumpers for certain: He ain’t afraid to jack ‘em up. He averaged 6.3 threes per game in 26.8 minutes of playing time at Barcelona II. Here’s hoping that confidence one day translates into a higher shooting percentage.
Knicks fans would absolutely love Bolmaro’s defense. The kid is scrappy as hell guarding his man, often picking up full-court. He has the lateral quickness, length and motor to be tremendously disruptive, racking up steals and generally frustrating the crap out of opposing ball-handlers.
Really nice job by Leandro Bolmaro denying multiple handoff attempts. Doesn't give Nenad Dimitrijevic any space to get the ball pic.twitter.com/bvh8O2s5YY— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) June 17, 2020
This is just some incredible foot speed defending the perimeter by Leandro Bolmaro pic.twitter.com/Sw5m7xmWnx— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) June 25, 2020
Like with his offense, he tends to get in trouble when he’s too aggressive, over-playing his man and over-helping on his teammate’s man.
RJ and Bolmaro have actually played together before, in a USA vs. the World exhibition in Portland.
RJ has already played with Bolmaro. As far as I'm concerned, that means the Knicks own Bolmaro's rights. https://t.co/PTUijCFFSs— Joseph Flynn (@ChinaJoeFlynn) July 5, 2020
WHERE WILL HE LAND?
This is a weird draft, and Bolmaro’s stock seems to be all over the place, with some prognosticators putting him toward the end of the lottery and others placing him outside the lottery altogether. ESPN’s Mike Schmitz recently pegged Bolmaro as a potential draft steal, though he did warn that the kid needs seasoning.
The dream scenario, of course, is that Bolmaro slips to around No. 27, where the Knicks have the pick they acquired in the Marcus Morris trade. Of course, we’re talking about the Knicks here, so that won’t happen. The damn Celtics currently pick twice before No. 27, and the Nuggets and a few other competent teams could draft-and-stash Bolmaro. The front office might have to get crafty with their boatload of picks in the next few drafts if they want to bring the kid on board.
Though the chances may be slim, I’d love to see Leandro Bolmaro in the orange and blue. He might not help them immediately, but he possesses that sense of joie de vivre that would be fun to watch, even on a crappy team.