The Orlando Magic selected Texas center Mo Bamba with the No. 6 in the 2018 NBA draft.
The Orlando Magic selected center Mo Bamba with the No. 6 pick in the 2018 NBA draft.
Bamba was a five-star recruit, landing the No. 2 spot in the country for the class of 2017. The McDonald's All-American chose Texas over a number of other schools, including Duke and Kentucky.
Standing at 7'1" with a wingspan that stretches 7'10", Bamba is a defensive menace. But he can also contribute offensively, averaging 12.9 points per game in addition to 10.5 rebounds and 3.7 blocks. Bamba set the single-season block record for Texas, tallying a total of 111.The Longhorns lost to Nevada in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Jeremy Woo's grade: A
Bamba has always been the perfect fit for the Magic, and Orlando will be thrilled to see him fall to their pick after league-wide trade posturing for picks No. 3 and 4. Bamba’s length, athleticism and All-NBA defensive potential are the perfect anchor for new head coach Steve Clifford’s defense, and the Magic will hope to pair Bamba and Jonathan Isaac to form a long, versatile frontline that can stifle all but the most potent offenses. Bamba is more skilled than he showed at Texas and may yet become an impactful piece on that end of the floor as well. The team-player synergy here is perfect.
SI.com's Jeremy Woo broke down Bamba's strengths and weaknesses.
• Highest-caliber potential as a rim protector. Absurd 7’10” wingspan and 9’7” standing reach allow him to occupy a ton of space despite his thin build. Averaged 4.3 blocks per-36 with a 13.2% block rate.
• Useful rebounder who will collect the ball when others can’t, simply thanks to his physical gifts.
• Improving offensive skill set. Size allows him easy baskets and lobs. Has some level of shooting touch. Made 14 of 51 attempts from three and 68% of free throws.
• Has shown some ability to defend in space and switch ball screens. Light on his feet. At times looks like he’s still getting used to his body but far from a stiff.
• Intelligent and thoughtful off the court.
• Needs to get a lot stronger. Doesn’t seem to love contact and sometimes leans on his talent rather than boxing out or fighting for the ball.
• Doesn’t establish deep post position. Can appear out of his comfort zone trying to create his own offense. Not at a point where he can impose his will as a scorer.
• Inconsistent motor. Scouts have wondered how badly he wants it at times. Doesn’t consistently impact games. Has yet to fully convince people he can reach his considerable potential.