Last summer’s draft has already yielded results for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They snagged Anthony Edwards with the first pick and Jaden McDaniels at 28. Both of these guys played above and beyond expectations this year and adjusted well to the league. Now they are part of the winning formula going forward.
The Edwards and McDaniels picks reflect how well Gersson Rosas did in last year’s draft, but there was a hidden gem in the bunch as well. The Wolves selected Leandro Bolmaro with the 23rd pick. Bolmaro is an Argentinian guard who plays for FC Barcelona, and he was likely taken because the Wolves did not want to add three first-rounders to an already young roster going into last season.
Bolmaro is listed at 6’8” and known for his ball-handling as a big guard with playmaking ability. His shot needed work going into the draft, which limited him to his guard skills as a prospect. He’s considered a viable defender, using his large frame to his advantage. All of these traits caught the attention of scouts before he entered last year’s draft.
He began his professional career in Argentina at 16 and then played two seasons for FC Barcelona in the Spanish league, ACB Liga. Barcelona is a competitive team that has had players like Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, and Joe Ingles play for them before they made their leap to the NBA.
Scouts expected Bolmaro to be a playmaking guard, but he has begun to shoot the ball more often and effectively as he received more playing time throughout the year.
As you can see in the small sample from the 2019-20 season, Bolmaro was getting a lot of shots up in his limited playing time, but they were all within the arc. However, he increased the frequency of his 3-point attempts and shot the ball efficiently in 2020-21 while receiving the same amount of time.
He also proficiently finishes plays at the free-throw line, shooting a high percentage despite limited attempts.
A tale of two seasons
The biggest difference-maker in Bolmaro’s development has been his season-to-season progression. Notably, he has shown more signs of promise in his less-developed skills as the season went on.
When Bolmaro got more playing time in the second half, his statistical numbers jumped — especially 3-point attempts and makes. This is a great sign for the Wolves going into next season.
It’s also a positive indicator that Bolmaro’s game evolved in the second half of the season. He polished his skills that were lacking, and the Wolves will benefit from adding another lanky, versatile guard. He’s only 20 years old and has room to improve on the defensive side, which would make him a more complete player and allow him to support this already young and talented roster better.
The Wolves enter this year’s draft lottery with only a 27.6% chance to keep their top-three protected as a result of the Andrew Wiggins–D’Angelo Russell trade. They currently have the seventh-best odds because they chose not to tank this season. If they don’t end up with a pick, Bolmaro becomes that much more valuable next season.
There’s a lot to like about adding a seasoned professional to Minnesota’s roster next season, given his potential. However, if we were to redraft the first round, Bolmaro would be a potential lottery selection after his recent overseas performances over players who have not shown much promise or are still projects.
Gersson Rosas has been vocal about his intentions of bringing Bolmaro over this offseason, which, in my opinion, is his attempt to reassure fans that they have security for the potential loss of their 2021 first-round pick. Should Golden State receive Minnesota’s pick this year, it may not be the worst thing for this franchise as they try to make the playoffs for only the second time since the 2003-04 season.
A player with Bolmaro’s diverse skill set can have an immediate impact, especially on a team in need of core role players. He is someone to keep your eyes on this summer as Minnesota begins to round out their roster for next season and on the Argentina squad during the Summer Olympics.