Irish in the NBA: How Bonzie Colson’s Game Translates to the NBA


Bonzie Colson wasn’t drafted in last Thursday’s NBA Draft. Shortly after the draft, however, he signed a summer league contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. How might Colson’s career in the NBA unfold?

Bonzie Colson’s game at Notre Dame was a unique one. His offensive repertoire mixed back-to-the-basket post moves, midrange jump shots, and around-the-basket floaters. Notre Dame hasn’t seen many players like Bonzie Colson.

Unfortunately for Colson, the NBA hasn’t seen a ton of players like Colson, either.

Colson’s biggest obstacle in the NBA will be his size. At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Bonzie will have to find a way to carve a unique niche in the NBA. Scouting sites tend to agree with this assessment. One draft site characterized Colson like this: ” Colson has made strides to improve offensively this year, but he is basically an undersized power forward in a wing player’s body.”

Colson has a few things going for him. First, during the duration of his career, he has found unique ways to score. His creativity will serve him well at the higher level. Secondly, despite being only 6-foot-5, Colson has a 7-foot wingspan that helps cover some of his size deficiencies. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the NBA is trending smaller.

During his career at Notre Dame, Colson’s length allowed him to be an above-average shot blocker for his size. During his senior season, Colson blocked 2.2 shots per game.

Statistically, Colson has been more than serviceable on the glass, as well. During his last two seasons in South Bend, Colson averaged 10.1 rebounds per game. At his size and in his conference, that is a remarkable number.

While it is unlikely that Colson will spend a ton of time posting up on the block in the NBA, he has shown the ability to score away from the basket. In the NBA, Colson will need to improve on his perimeter shot. If he can stretch his range to be an adequate shooter from three-point range, Colson can find time in the NBA.

It seems as if Colson has a chance to do just that. Colson shot 55% from the field for his career, including 35% from behind the three-point line. He also shot a career 77% from the free-throw line, which is a good indication that Colson has a technically sound shot.

With repetition, Colson can improve on his perimeter game. Don’t expect to see Colson making a huge difference in the NBA any time soon, but he could find a way to carve out a solid NBA career.

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Whoever ends up with Colson, whether its the Cavs or another team who could use Colson’s services, will get a hard-nosed, well-coached player who spent four years developing his game in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. Colson will have to step his game up in the NBA, but he might just have himself a pretty good career.