Orlando Magic Playbook: 4 areas Mohamed Bamba must improve

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Mohamed Bamba, Orlando Magic
Mohamed Bamba’s work has largely been behind the scenes as he struggled to break the Orlando Magic’s rotation. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the big frustrations of the early portion of the season, when Nikola Vucevic was carrying the Orlando Magic and a playoff push still seemed to be the target, was a lack of game time for Mohamed Bamba.

Despite a host of injuries to key players, the center position remained healthy much to Mohamed Bamba’s detriment. Nikola Vucevic had to play 40 minutes to give the team a chance and, once again, Khem Birch was receiving his fair share of minutes alongside Mohamed Bamba.

The team, in trying to carve out a spot in the playoffs, could not wait on a raw young player who still was making a ton of mistakes and needing space on the floor.

Fans were desperate to see more of the man taken sixth in the 2018 NBA Draft, calling for coach Steve Clifford to put Mohamed Bamba’s development higher up the list of priorities as hopes of a playoff spot slipped away with every passing game.

And they were right to do so. Since the trade deadline, Bamba has already shown that he was worthy of more minutes than he got during his first two-and-a-half seasons in a Magic uniform.

Mohamed Bamba has been a fascination for Orlando Magic fans. With the opportunity to play, Bamba has shown his potential and begun to grow in earnest.

Before the trade deadline, Bamba averaged 4.6 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game in 10.2 minutes per game. Since the trade deadline, Bamba is averaging 10.7 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game in 19.2 minutes per game. The increased playing time has led to an increase in production.

A 21-point game against the Milwaukee Bucks saw the center knock down five of his six threes, while back-to-back 17-point games against the New Orleans Pelicans and Indiana Pacers contributed to the former Texas Longhorn averaging a solid 10.8 points per game in the month of April.

Then there was the recent loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, arguably one of his best games in a Magic uniform. He finished with a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double and played solid defense too.

It was the culmination of an impressive month for Bamba, one which has seen him make important strides forward with the increased opportunity he has been given.

Saturday’s win over Memphis did not see Bamba have the same level of impact. But nonetheless, he continued to show promise with the way he played the game despite an underwhelming stat line.

Playing catch-up

Mohamed Bamba has often had to play catch-up during his NBA career.

A stress fracture cut short his rookie season. Then COVID issues impacted his conditioning forced him to miss time in the Disney bubble. It has not been easy for him, and his development has taken a hit because of it.

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  • But there are still some big questions around Bamba’s game that he must answer in order to make the next step in his career now he is starting to put a run together.

    Bamba’s physical gifts give him a unique advantage on the court. His gigantic 7-foot-10 wingspan is incredibly difficult for opponents to deal with, while his ability to shoot at 7-feet tall gives him an important edge over others. Gradually, he is learning how to use these gifts to his advantage.

    But the arrival of Wendell Carter has put the spotlight on where Mohamed Bamba is still lagging behind.

    Carter still has a lot of development to do himself, but ultimately the former Chicago Bulls center’s ability to consistently contribute defensively has given him the starting spot when both are available to choose from.

    Theoretically, Bamba’s distinctive features should make him a menace on the defensive end. And while he has flashed ability as a shot-blocker, notching four in the loss to the Grizzlies, the defensive side of his game still has a way to go.

    And even though he has boasted an ability to score in different ways, there are still some important strides he can make on the offensive end too.

    Bamba has done plenty of good things since being given more of a chance to impress, but he has also done some bad things too. This is, of course, natural for a player only 22 years of age that is still developing. But nonetheless, there are some key areas that Bamba must start improving in both this and next season as his rookie contract approaches its end.