Orlando Magic Playbook: 4 areas Mohamed Bamba must improve

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Mohamed Bamba, Orlando Magic, Marc Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers
Mohamed Bamba had some positive moments in the Orlando Magic’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Mar 28, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol (14) is guarded by Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba (5) in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Defending post-ups

Mohamed Bamba’s size means he has all the tools to be an impactful post defender. He has, however, struggled with guarding the more physical centers in the league.

He has often been outmuscled and outmaneuvered, resulting in easy buckets for the opposition. Look at the way he defends the Portland Trail Blazers’ Enes Kanter here:

Bamba makes up Kanter’s mind for him. He does not get tight enough, takes up a poor position and gets easily brushed aside allowing the man he is guarding to get under the basket for an easy finish.

This was by no means an easy task for Bamba. Kanter is one of the most physical centers in the league and has made a career living in the paint. But to become a solid starter, you have to be able to deal with the bigger matchups competently. This is still an area he must work to improve in.

According to NBA.com’s tracking stats, opponents score 1.09 points per possession on post-ups, shooting 62.0-percent from the floor. That puts Bamba in the bottom quarter of the league in post-defense.

Bamba still finds himself challenging shots and getting his share of blocks, but nobody is afraid of going at him. Despite allowing opponents to shoot 5.8-percentage points worse at the rim than expected, according to data from Basketball Index, opponents still attack the rim more than average when he is in there.

His poor post-defense and positioning are certainly one of the reasons for this disparity.

Another example of his struggles in this area was on display when he guarded the Los Angeles Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell, who had a lot of joy against Mohamed Bamba when getting him one-on-one.

Bamba’s frame means he is often unable to match stockier centers for strength and is sometimes guilty of not reading the game well enough to sense what they are going to do.

Adding more upper body strength would go some way to addressing the issue and allow him to make life more difficult for centers like Kanter.

For a coach like Steve Clifford, who prides his teams on their ability to not give up easy points in the paint, this is a significant problem that’s holding Bamba back from being given more opportunity.

There have been moments of encouragement when it comes to defending post-ups, particularly against guys that Bamba has a physical advantage over. The next step is doing this on a more consistent basis, particularly when it comes to the more difficult matchups.

Bamba must work to minimize the number of points he leaks on defense to give himself a better opportunity of progressing his career. Wendell Carter currently has the edge over Mohamed Bamba because of his ability to do that.