In Chris Bolden's time in Atlanta, he has been an enigma wrapped in a puzzle encased in a shroud of mystery. The Georgia Tech offense badly needs contributions from the shooting guard spot. They also need upperclassmen leadership to shape this young group. Is this the year Bolden takes a huge leap forward?
Measurables and background:
Chris Bolden is listed at 6'3 and 223 lbs. Bolden finished his high school ball at North Gwinnett High, after jumping between schools in the Atlanta area. He was a part of the 2012 recruiting class that brought in Marcus Georges-Hunt and Corey Heyward. He began his Georgia Tech career as a modest but promising scorer two seasons ago, when he averaged 7.3 points a game on 36.2% shooting.
Bolden began the 2013-14 season on the bench due to a 3 game suspension for violating team rules stemming from a DUI arrest that summer. This was only the beginning of his problems last season.
Bolden shot just 30.5% from three and somehow even worse from inside the arc. His effective field goal percentage, which properly weights threes as being worth more than twos, was 37.9%. Essentially, that translates to .76 points per shot, which was the lowest mark among players who used at least 16% of possession while on the floor (roughly the top 9 players most involved in the offense).
He would be replaced in the starting lineup with Corey Heyward for a stretch during the season. Some of the reasonings for this may have been for defensive purposes, as Heyward defensively represents an upgrade over Bolden, but regardless it was a setback for Chris in his sophomore season.
Timeout with Chris Bolden:
Role on this year's team:
While Bolden is regarded as a sharpshooter, the results in his first two collegiate season simply have not been there. Even when his long range shot isn't falling, Bolden can still get into the lane and create. He has a strong build for someone his size and good balance when finishing in traffic. I'd like to see him expand on his pull-up game off the dribble, as his handle is enough to create space against most defenses.
Despite this, he doesn't draw fouls at a high rate and doesn't chip in much in hustle areas like rebounding, steals and blocks. In addition, his overall defense is not particularly impressive.
Still, if there is anyone on this team with the ability to be a streaky shooter, it's Bolden. This streakiness can scenarios for this season where Bolden shoulders a big load of the offense with his ability to get free without the ball for catch-and-shoot opportunities. The Jackets will need to improve upon a offense that finished second to last in the ACC in Kenpom's Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, which uses per possession stats and adjusts for opponent strength, to compete in the toughest conference in the nation. The performance of Chris Bolden will go a long way to determining where the Jackets finish in the ACC.
*Shooting data taken from Kenpom.com