Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch has had an ever-changing back portion of the rotation this year, which has allowed Leandro Bolmaro to go from the G League to the NBA starting lineup, and, most recently, back out of the Timberwolves’ rotation.
Can Leandro Bolmaro carve out a consistent role for the Timberwolves?
Timberwolves rookie wing Leandro Bolmaro is far from a finished product, to say the least.
At the moment, as he plays limited minutes off the Timberwolves bench, it’s clear that there is potential to be polished over the next few years. For the season, Bolmaro is averaging 8.2 minutes per game, although he’s played a variety of roles.
Bolmaro started the year in the G League and was essentially the 12th man on the bench for the Timberwolves when he was called up during the first month of the season. In seven consecutive games from Nov. 27 through Dec. 12, Bolmaro played double-figure minutes. Then, his minutes dried up, and he’s only played garbage-time minutes in two of the last five games.
The first time that yours truly saw Bolmaro play was in the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit in Portland as he played on the World Team alongside RJ Barrett, Josh Green and others. After seeing him play at the professional level, I was high on the Argentinian guard because of his creativity, defensive effort and length, despite being such a raw prospect.
Bolmaro reached the pros at just 16 years old after signing with Estudiantes de Bahía Blanca in Argentina’s top league. He also earned a spot on Argentina’s U-17 national team, winning a silver medal and scoring a team-high 13.8 points per game at the FIBA South American U-17 Championship in 2017.
His game continued to progress after transferring to FC Barcelona in 2018. Over the next two years, Bolmaro bounced between Barcelona’s senior and reserve team, averaging 10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the reserve squad. During the 2019-20 season, Bolmaro faced an elevated level of competition with the senior team.
He decided to sign an extension with Barcelona through 2023 but was selected a couple months later by the New York Knicks in the 2020 NBA Draft. New York took him with the 23rd pick before dealing Bolmaro and a second rounder to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the pick that turned out to be Immanuel Quickley.
A month prior to this season, Bolmaro paid his buyout with Barcelona and signed a 4-year deal worth $11.8 million with the Timberwolves.
Although he hasn’t yet produced at the same rate as fellow late-first-round guards Tyrese Maxey, Payton Pritchard, Desmond Bane or Quickley, Bolmaro has plenty of time to develop.
The 21-year-old earned a career-high 25 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets in early December, scoring four points, five rebounds and two assists in a narrow loss. I saw Bolmaro play that night and he was noticeably destructive on defense, physical in the paint (especially for his size), and regularly made the right decision on offense.
Bolmaro averaged 17 points, 6.3 assists and 6.3 rebounds on 38.7% shooting from 3-point range in four games with the Iowa Wolves earlier this year. He has a lot of room for improvement, needing to become a better scorer, gain strength and weight, and tighten his handle.
Clearly, the 6-foot-6 wing isn’t an impact player as of yet, but there’s no question that the upside is worth watching.