Orlando Magic Shooting Month: 5 Magic 3-point shooters before their times

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Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic, Minnesota Timberwolves
Mo Bamba had a strong season when given the opportunity. But he appears set to head to free agency. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports /

5 Orlando Magic shooters before their times

Mo Bamba

The next evolution around the NBA is the advent of the stretch-5.

The idea of inverting the traditional idea of basketball and having your center shoot from beyond the arc is slowly changing the league. Big men have to be skilled now, they cannot be mere brutes or else they could get blown by off the dribble.

The idea behind the stretch-5 has freed up space for the crazy amount of playmakers and drivers in the league. Teams are moving to switching defenses because they trust centers to be able to hold their own on the perimeter.

Center skills are becoming more valuable in non-centers just as much as shooting is becoming valuable in centers. Not to mention playmaking now that Nikola Jokic has become a two-time MVP as a playmaking center.

Orlando is still trying to find its way in this new wave. For the first time, Orlando is not leading or near the lead of the 3-pointe evolution.

The Magic have had few stretch-5s before. The experiment signing Channing Frye to a four-year deal was dipping the toe into this world.

Frye was a great 3-point shooter in Orlando even though he still largely played power forward. Nikola Vucevic’s evolution into an All-Star came because he expanded out to the 3-point line.

The Magic’s first stretch-5 experiment in full has come with Mo Bamba.

Bamba has shot 35.2-percent from beyond the arc for his career, topping off last year at 38.1-percent. He has had burst games where he hits a bunch of 3-pointers and becomes a player teams had no answer for. That is the threat and promise a stretch-5 brings.

Bamba has inverted a lot of the thoughts about center. He has taken 39.8-percent of his shots from beyond the arc in his career. That does not sound like it is going to slow down, even as the Magic move to more traditional stretch lineups and separate Mo Bamba from Wendell Carter in their lineup next year.

The idea in drafting Bamba with the sixth pick in 2018 was to find the team’s true unicorn. They were looking for someone equally adept at shooting and defending the perimeter as he was protecting the rim and shot-blocking.

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That promise has not quite panned out yet. Bamba has struggled to put all this talent together. But Orlando cannot quit the project either. The idea of his threat on the inside and the out is where the NBA is heading. And what the Magic want to find.