UCLA Basketball: Top 3 Best NBA Draft Destinations for Adem Bona

Where the Bruins' best player in 2023-24 would fit best.
Mar 13, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UCLA Bruins forward Adem Bona (3) dunks against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UCLA Bruins forward Adem Bona (3) dunks against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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After two seasons with the UCLA Bruins, former Blue and Gold power forward/center Adem Bona is headed to the NBA this summer. The 6-foot-10 big man out of Nigeria racked up accolades while with Mick Cronin and co. He was named a two-time Pac-12 All-Defensive Teamer, a 2024 All-Pac-12 First Teamer, and this season's Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Bona started pretty much from the jump, ultimately suiting up for all but one of his 66 contests across his two Bruins seasons. He was a key contributor to the club's Sweet Sixteen run in 2023, and the best player on UCLA's 16-17 team last year. In 2023-24, he averaged 12.4 points on 58.8 percent shooting from the floor and 69.6 percent shooting from the foul line, 5.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 assists and 1.1 steals a night.

A lengthy, athletic big man, Bona is limited by his lack of a reliable jumper (for now), and is seen as a late first round or early second round selection. So where would he fit best? There are a few different ways his rookie season can go, in terms of his role and the quality of the team. Let's break it down.

1. Boston Celtics

Boston, currently up 1-0 in the NBA Finals, presents a unique opportunity for Bona. He could join a club that went 64-18 in 2023-24 as the NBA's No. 1 overall seed and became at least a Finals contender, and he could also contribute right away if he was truly NBA-ready. 38-year-old reserve center Al Horford (he did start for Kristaps Porzingis during the Celtics' 107-89 Game 1 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Thursday, but that was merely because Porzingis was returning from a calf injury) will be in the final season of his two-year deal with the club, and remains effective, but diminished. Bona could be easily slotted into that backup big man role, and could serve as a backup four or five with his quickness. He's not the shooter that Horford is, of course, but he's an athletic, rim-rolling big.

Serving as an early contributor on a quality club could represent an exciting opportunity for Bona. The Celtics possess the No. 30 pick this year.

2. Miami Heat

The Heat have long suffered from a size issue during their Bam Adebayo era. Adding Thomas Bryant as the 6-foot-9 All-Star center's backup was an unserious decision, and he was out of the team's rotation by the postseason. 6-foot-8 Kevin Love, who'll turn 36 this year, played both backup big man spots. Love is a great shooter but has never been a quality defender, and he's rapidly aging. Bona gives the team legitimate, playable size and could serve as a tough enforcer in the frontcourt. The Heat have the No. 43 pick in the second round of the draft.

3. Denver Nuggets

This represents another situation where Bona could contribute right away to a team that made a strangely unserious 2023 offseason signing as its reserve center. Deandre Jordan may be a former All-Star and All-Defensive Teamer, but he, like Love, is on the verge of turning 36 this year, and unlike Love has been unplayable for at least two years now. The Nuggets, who have the No. 28 pick in the draft, could use a high-energy backup big with more size than Aaron Gordon, the team's starting power forward who was drafted into the backup five role behind three-time MVP Nikola Jokic. With the 2023 champs, Bona would have another chance to carve out a niche on a great NBA club.

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Alex Kirschenbaum

ALEX KIRSCHENBAUM

Alex likes slam dunks, take him to the hoop. His favorite play is the alley-oop.