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Mo Bamba
Mo Bamba
Position: C
Born: 05/12/98
Height: 7-0 / 2.13
Weight:225 lbs. / 102.1 kg.
Salary: $7,568,743

Anonymous scout on Mo Bamba: He has a ceiling that could be really good

In early May, Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba provided a tantalizing glimpse of the player he might become if everything goes right from here on out. In a matchup against the Boston Celtics, Bamba scored 19 points, collected 15 rebounds and blocked four shots. Dismiss the performance as empty stats in a meaningless game if you want — indeed, the Celtics crushed the Magic that night, 132-96 — but at the very least, it hinted at Bamba’s untapped potential. “Talent-wise, he has a ceiling that he could be really good if he’s locked-in,” an NBA scout said. “He has a chance, but I don’t know if his motor will let him get there. He’s skilled and he can shoot.”
Bamba’s supporters argue that he did not have a clear path to playing time over the last 12 months, if not longer. All-Star Nikola Vucevic was entrenched as the Magic’s starting center until he was traded last March, and Khem Birch seemed to be former coach Steve Clifford’s preferred choice as the primary backup to Vucevic. “I think Mo’s got talent,” Scout B said. “I just think the last regime was just not a fan of his. They weren’t enamored with him, and I think his confidence took a hit.”
“He can contest shots,” Scout A said. “I think he changes more shots than he blocks. Defensively, I would say he’s a 6.5 or 7 (out of 10). If he had a better motor, he could be a 9 defensively.” The other skill that scouts mention in Bamba’s favor is a skill that does not yet show up in his statistics: his long-range shooting. He is a career 32.5 percent shooter from beyond the 3-point arc, but that percentage does not reflect the smoothness of his shooting motion or his touch. “I think he’s got some skills that can help, and that translates to what the NBA is becoming,” Scout B said. “He can step out on the perimeter, and he can make some 3s.”
Alas, scouts tend to see more weaknesses in Bamba’s performance than strengths. Even Bamba’s shot-blocking numbers are regarded skeptically by three of the four scouts surveyed for this piece. “He blocks shots because of his length, but I don’t think he sees the game quick enough,” Scout C said. “His instincts on the defensive end are not very good. He’s always going to be playing from behind. His length will allow him to at least block shots and look good. But to consistently rely on him when his feel is not great? That’s tough.”
New Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said Thursday night after the team’s first summer-league practice that he was pleased to see Bamba take the initiative to join the team in Vegas. Bamba, in turn, said Saturday he likes what he’s seem from the new man in charge. “He’s made it clear that my presence [on the floor] is needed, is wanted and it’s just all about getting out there and putting in the right amount of work,” Bamba said. “Practicing with the team only helps the chemistry of the team. Coming out here … I had a choice, either to stay in Orlando and work with the coaches that didn’t come to summer league or come here and add in these good deposits from the team.”