Orlando Magic fans have been patiently waiting for their sleeping giant to wake up and wreak havoc in the paint. While Mohamed Bamba has not had the awakening that was expected of him on draft night, Bamba has shown flashes that should have Magic fans sitting on the edge of their seats.
Now with Jonathan Isaac out of the lineup for the 2021 season, the lanky seven-footer should see more playing time. Last year he logged 14.2 minutes per game and posted a quiet 5.4 points and 4.9 rebounds.
Sure, his stat line is that of the 14th man on a roster but his per 100 possession numbers are quite promising.
Bamba saw an increase in almost every statistical category from his rookie season to his second season. Most notably, his per 100 possessions blocks increased from 4.1 to 4.8 and his offensive rating jumped from 105 to 111. His 3-point percentage also increased from 30-percent to 34-percent which is one of the more important improvements.
Per FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s RAPTOR ratings, which is a statistical model that produces a probable yearly outcome for NBA players, says Bamba’s offensive and defensive plus/minus will improve by more 50-percent next season. If the big man continues to show improvement, especially during training camp and preseason, he will prove to be a valuable asset.
His on-court improvements are certainly tantalizing, but Bamba is also working to improve his body off the court. Prior to the start of the NBA Bubble this past summer, Bamba put on 21 pounds, most of that being muscle.
It is important for players of Bamba’s stature to develop their bodies to limit injury potential and become more formidable forces in the post. Kristaps Porzinigs, for example, came into the league and weighed 230 pounds in a 7-foot-3 frame. After several years in the league, Porzingis put on 16 pounds of muscle and is able to hold his own in the post.
If Mohamed Bamba continues to improve his body on and off the court, he will not be as much of a liability against bigger centers like Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic.
The NBA is in the midst of an era of multi-faceted big men. If Bamba can continue to defend the rim, space the floor with average 3-point shooting and stay relatively healthy, the Magic will have themselves a solid back up center.