Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba is having the best season of his career as a full-time starter during a contract season.
Bamba, one of the league’s top shot blockers, is averaging career-highs in points (11.2), rebounds (9.4), blocks (2.2), and steals (1.1) per game. The 23-year-old center is eligible for restricted free agency this summer if Orlando extends a $10.1 million qualifying offer.
“I think his ceiling is beyond high,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley told HoopsHype. “If he continues to dominate the simple things and control what he can control, which he has been doing lately, I think the ceiling is really extremely high for him.”
Bamba discussed his career journey thus far, the difference playing for coach Mosley following Steve Clifford, the outlook for the Magic, and his free agency future this summer with HoopsHype.
What’s been the biggest step for you this year in your growth?
Mo Bamba: I want to contribute it to our coaches. They gave me an opportunity to get out there and play in what I can offer to the game and how I can make winning plays. It’s been listening to them, and their vision for me, and the freedom they give me offensively and defensively to go challenge shots is the biggest thing.
What are your thoughts on your career so far through your first four seasons?
MB: I don’t think anybody could answer that like it’s been what I thought it would be. But, I know I’ve given myself an opportunity by putting in as much work as possible, going out there and playing through distractions, playing through the noise, and ultimately being myself.
How have you felt post-Covid?
MB: It was actually misreported that I was a long hauler of Covid. I’m not. I definitely had my troubles with Covid when I had it back in June of 2020, but that chapter of my life is way over, and I’m happy to be healthy and out there doing what I love.
What’s been the biggest difference playing for coach Jamahl Mosley following Steve Clifford?
MB: I think the biggest thing for me is the defensive freedom. I’m able to switch and guard multiple people as opposed to when I was playing under (Steve) Clifford. It was to stay in my coverage and stay traditional, protect the rim, but don’t be overzealous. Now, I get to go out there and really display what I can do out there defensively, which is challenge shots and switch onto smaller guards.
How’s it been playing alongside Wendell Carter as two centers in a league going small ball?
MB: I think that’s the evolution of the game. I think we’ll see more and more of it. Guys are starting to get out there and make plays. Bigs can dribble, shoot, and pass. Wendell’s skill set is so unique that it allows me to be a traditional center when I have to be and vice versa.
What are your goals individually for this season?
MB: I wanted to go out there and play, make winning plays, and impact this team in a winning way. I think the rest of it will take care of itself.
What have you seen so far from this Orlando Magic team?
MB: I think one thing that’s apparent with us is our growth. It’s a great culture in the locker room. We really like each other and feed off each other. The biggest thing is our growth. We know that we’re probably going to get our medicine out there this season, but at the end of the day, we’re going to learn and be better.
What’s allowed Cole Anthony to take a step in his development this year?
MB: His work ethic. He’s always had this work ethic where he continues to work, whether he’s playing well or bad. He’s one of the hardest-working guys that I know.
What are your thoughts on the outlook for the Magic and your future long-term as a restricted free agent?
MB: I think the sky’s the limit for this young group. We have a lot of talent, and we have a lot of depth at every position. I’m excited to be a part of this. I’m excited to wear Orlando across my chest. I’m just focusing on the now and the moment.
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto