Stop me if you’ve heard this story before, an Argentinian two-guard with smooth handles, superb vision, and a nose for the rock. I wouldn’t blame you if glorious images of Manu Ginobili euro-stepping his way to a pair of points filled your imagination. Unfortunately, outside of their nationality and a flair for the dramatic, the San Antonio Spurs legend and Leandro Bolmaro have little in common.
As exciting as the thought of San Antonio landing the second coming of Ginobili on draft night may be, Bolmaro is a strikingly different player than his retired compatriot. And while that’s likely to disappoint several members of the Silver and Black faithful, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a substantial supplement to the San Antonio Spurs’ promising young core.
Leandro Bolmaro | FC Barcelona | Guard
Weight: 182 lbs
Stats (22 GP)
Per Game: 8.0 PPG/1.7 RPG/2.5 APG/1.3 SPG/0.1 BPG
Per 36: 16.4 PPG/3.4 RPG/5.2 APG/2.6 SPG/0.3 BPG
Shooting Splits: .424 FG%/.279 3P%/.676 FT%
Bolmaro is one of the biggest risers in the 2020 NBA Draft Class, and teams around the league have taken note of his unique gifts at shooting guard. The Argentinean teenager started the season in LEB Plata, the third basketball division of the Spanish basketball league system, but split time between FC Barcelona Bàsquet B and the big league club, occasionally suiting up for Euroleague action.
Bolmaro is taller than the prototypical two-guard, and his court vision and feel are second to none in comparison with his positional peers. Few incoming pros possess his ability to read the floor and dish dimes off the dribble, and his precision with either hand makes him a threat to find the open man regardless of the situation. Whether operating in transition or out of the pick-and-roll, he can deliver a pinpoint pass into a small window, though his showmanship can lead to overambitious turnovers.
While one-handedness plagues a fair share of young players, Leandro has demonstrated a tremendous level of ambidexterity and creativity as a ballhandler. Despite a slightly slow first-step and meager 32.5-inch max vertical, his crafty change of speed and direction combined with an array of potent in-and-out crossovers and spin moves allow him to navigate through the defense. Smaller defenders routinely disrupt his dribble when they get underneath him, and he sometimes plays out of control, but experience and practice can resolve those issues.
In regards to scoring, below-average athleticism and passivity may limit his ceiling in this department, especially in the half-court, though he has shown respectable touch on floaters and runners. Bolmaro struggled to finish at the rim against longer guys, and the NBA is full of world-class athletes with far-reaching appendages. Considering putting points on the board from close range could be an uphill battle, inconsistent shot mechanics, low shooting percentages, and troubles getting to the foul line won’t be particularly attractive to teams looking for a go-to option.
The South American swingman has already flashed the IQ to make the right play with or without the ball in his hands, and he’s a legitimate first-round talent. Whether Leandro makes an immediate jump to the association or stays overseas for a year or two, improving his jumper and adding muscle will determine if he thrives or survives when he comes stateside. Bolmaro might not be equipped to contribute efficiently from day one, but his awareness as a masterful cutter and a first-rate distributor will add value to any franchise.
As we’ve discussed many times before, San Antonio’s defensive prowess has floundered in recent years, coming to a low point only matched by the Spurs’ pitiful 1996-1997 season during Gregg Popovich’s first go-round as an NBA head coach. Most of their problems stem from glaring shortcomings on the perimeter, and the addition of Leandro Bolmaro could provide a much-needed boost to their point-stopping proficiency.
Bolmaro is a fearless defender, and his determination to disrupt plays at the point of attack creates headaches for ball handlers. While his aggression can get him into foul trouble from time to time, his relentless style of on-ball defense is one of the main reasons he averages nearly THREE steals per 36 minutes. Even when he fails to come up with a takeaway, his fluid hips and astonishingly swift feet help him stay in front of his man, cut off lanes to the basket, and force ill-advised decisions.
The energetic shooting guard expertly identifies and maneuvers around ball-screens, and fights to remain involved in the action when knocked off course. His ball-denial on dribble-handoffs can be suffocating to a fault, though his active hands and high motor convert lazy passes into fastbreak opportunities, making the occasions he’s beat on back-door cuts easier to swallow.
Leandro is a terrific team defender who keeps his head on a swivel, rarely succumbing to ball-watching. He does an excellent job of tagging rollers, sliding over to provide help from the weak side, and Bolmaro isn’t afraid to front stronger players when switched onto big men. And for the most part, he closes out under control, denying drives to the hoop and contesting open shooters beyond the arc.
Although the Las Varillas product lacks the burst and length to make some noise as a rebounder or rim protector, his potential defensive versatility as he continues to bulk up is mouthwatering. The 19-year-old is equally dedicated to both ends of the hardwood, and in an era where “two-way” players are scarce, that makes him a precious commodity. There are a plethora of superior athletes in this year’s crop, but not many play with as much effort and attention to detail as Leandro Bolmaro.
Player Comparison: Evan Turner/Joe Ingles
Before anyone gets up in arms over comparisons for this international prospect, let me start by saying likening players to one another is NOT a promise of what is to come. If anything, drawing profession parallels is a useful tool for identifying how an incoming talent MIGHT produce at the next level.
Tomas Satorasnky appeared a couple of times when I did background research for this article, and while Leandro Bolmaro shares a few similarities to the Chicago Bull, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer hit the nail on the head with his comparisons. The names Evan Turner and Joe Ingles may not turn many heads, but they’ve both enjoyed productive NBA careers.
Much like Turner, Bolmaro is an oversized playmaker capable of running an offense as the primary ball-handler. Both guards are cerebral distributors with streaky jump shots and average athleticism who use their deceptive shiftiness to get to their sweet spots on the floor. And neither player finishes well through contact or assertively hunts scoring chances.
On the defensive end, Leandro resembles Joe Ingles in the way he overcomes his physical limitations through pure intensity and unwaning effort. In most instances, the man opposite of Ingles is the better athlete, yet the Australian forward always seems to get under their skin. However, Bolmaro has fleeter feet, more fluid hips, and plenty of frame left to fill out, which bodes well for his switchability.
Although the Spurs have a surplus of shooting guards, pigeonholing Leandro Bolmaro into a specific position is borderline disrespectful. With the vision of a point guard and the height of a small forward, if his shot ever develops into a reliable weapon, San Antonio could deploy him in a variety of roles all around the court. He may not be worthy of a lottery selection, but that shouldn’t stop the good guys from sweeping him up if he slips into the second round.
To check out more potential 2020 draft targets, click here.