Despite being in the lottery for several years, the Orlando Magic have struggled to find a player capable of changing their fortunes.
But there is major hope that their selection in this season’s draft could do just that.
The Magic picked Mo Bamba at number six on Thursday night and there’s real excitement about his potential.
Star in the making
He stands at 7’1″ but possesses a ridiculous 7’10” wingspan and has the talent to become one of the best bigs in the league in the future.
Bamba has been likened to Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, who has established himself as arguably the best defensive big in the NBA.
He is the favourite to win Defensive Player of the Year at Monday’s NBA Awards after another solid season.
Bamba certainly has the ability to rival Gobert for that crown in the years to come and live up to his reputation in college as an elite rim protector.
The 19-year-old has supreme confidence in his game and believes he can immediately become one of the league’s best defensive anchors in his rookie season.
“One difference between me and any other prospect in this class is presence,’’ said Bamba. “If I’m plugged into the NBA right now – I don’t want to be cocky when I say this – but I feel I’d be one of the best rim protectors in the league as a rookie,” he said, per John Denton of NBA.com.
“It’s something that I’ve really tried to master early in my career and it’s only going to get better.”
In his one campaign in college with the Texas Longhorns, Bamba was a master shot blocker as he averaged 3.7 per game. He also added a double-double of 12.9 points and 10.5 rebounds.
He was largely responsible for opponents shooting just 30 percent at the rim against Texas.
If he’s not rejecting shots at the rim, the big man’s length and athleticism allows him to alter them, forcing opposing players to try and get around him.
Orlando didn’t have a defensive presence in the paint last season and allowed teams to get inside almost at will as they gave up 48.3 points per game.
But Bamba will certainly help to reduce that figure and put fear into opponents looking to enter the paint against the Magic next year.
He may not be a franchise changing player, but there’s no doubt that he has a bright future and can become a star center in the NBA and finally fill the huge shoes left by Dwight Howard at the Amway Center.
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