Orlando Magic center Mohamed Bamba will finally have an offseason to improve

Apr 11, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba (5) blocks Milwaukee Bucks guard Bryn Forbes (7) shot in the fourth quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba (5) blocks Milwaukee Bucks guard Bryn Forbes (7) shot in the fourth quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

Mohamed Bamba has had a rough start to his young career.

He has dealt with many injuries which have kept him from taking steps forward. First, it was a fracture in his leg that cut his rookie season short. Then an ankle injury that cut his first offseason short. And COVID did a number on him to end his second season and slow his development during the offseason.

Bamba was behind entering this season and it showed as the young center has struggled to get consistent minutes and make a consistent impact, especially on the defensive end.

Even with these obstacles, Bamba has shown flashes of what he can become. But there are also times he plays two steps slower than his matchup.

There are more than a few people who have given up on Bamba. But it is important to remember that he has dealt with injuries, and he will have a chance to make these improvements this summer.

Mohamed Bamba’s career so far has been slowed by injury. With a chance in the rotation and an offseason to stay healthy, Bamba has to get better in every way to stick.

Mohamed Bamba struggled to find an opportunity for time on the floor to start the season behind all-star Nikola Vucevic. It also did not help, he continued to battle the COVID-19 implications that held him out from the bubble. And Khem Birch played well in his opportunity.

Combined with the lack of practice time which coach Steve Clifford mentions, Mohamed Bamba never really had a chance to prove that he deserves playing time.

On the season, Bamba has averaged 7.2 points ( career-high ), 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in only 13.8 minutes per game which is a career-low. Even though these numbers do not jump out as anything special, he is shooting 36-percent from three, which is higher than the center average at 34.4-percent.

Since the trade deadline, Bamba’s production has increased. He is averaging 10.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in 18.8 minutes per game. He is shooting 48.9-percent from the floor and 40.4-percent on 3-pointers.

This certainly suggests Bamba still has a place to impact the offensive end.

He has looked more confident on the offensive end on the floor the more he plays. Aside from his three-point shooting, he has shown the ability to attack the rim by blowing by opposing big men. While his offense is improving, it is his defense that is concerning.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

The Magic have a 71.4-percent defensive rebound rate with Bamba on the floor — the team averages 74.9-percent overall. This points to Bamba’s struggles as a rebounder overall. His individual defensive rebound rate is worse than 20-percent, a poor number for a center.

According to data from Basketball-Index, Bamba still contests and blocks his share of shots at the rim. But nobody is afraid to drive on him. This points to teams gambling that even if Bamba can block the shot, he will not get back into defensive position to challenge the rebound or a second shot.

Orlando’s defense has been poor with Bamba on the floor — 113.8 points per 100 possessions for the season and 121.2 points per 100 possessions since the trade deadline.

Before people give up on Bamba though, it is important to consider why his defense is concerning combined with his injury-filled recent pass. While Bamba is getting better with his positioning as a defender, the two most concerning parts of his defense are his size and trouble of rebounding.

Back in the bubble, Bamba played in an exhibition game where he played against the LA Clippers and was able to get into his spots and was not pushed around by Joakim Noah.

However, he only worked on his bodybuilding because of his COVID-19 complications, which hurt his ability to work on his conditioning. This took him out of the rest of the season and the summer as he still struggled with his conditioning.

Now, as he has worked on his conditioning, he has lost some of his size he had built. This caused Bamba to go to the other side of the spectrum.

It explains why he struggles to guard other big centers, and it also hurts him in the rebounding category. The game against the Los Angles Lakers where Montrezl Harrell scored 18 points and grabbed four offensive rebounds is a prime example of where Mohamed Bamba’s size and strength were the problems on the defensive end.

This will be where Bamba has to focus his improvement if he wants to stick on the Magic’s roster and get a new contract when he hits restricted free agents next offseason. He finally should have a healthy summer to improve himself individually to have both his conditioning and his size ready for training camp.

It will help Bamba significantly on the defensive end and help the Magic on the glass.

While there are still so many question marks surrounding Bamba and going into year four next season, he will have a full summer to improve himself physically to become the player he is capable of being.

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Bamba has not gotten a fair chance to show that he can make the improvements he has to make and take a step forward. Before anyone makes the final verdict on the Bamba tenure with Orlando, let Bamba have the summer he deserves.