It was on ESPN’s The Jump last month where Mohamed Bamba was asked what it’d be like to play in his hometown of New York.
“That’s funny, I didn’t know the Knicks were in contention for the No. 1 pick.”
It’s Bamba’s charm, basketball IQ and ridiculous dimensions that has him projected to go in the Top-5 of June’s NBA Draft. No prospect has improved his stock greater than Bamba over the pre-draft process.
The 6’11” center set an NBA combine record with a 7’9” wingspan and a 9’6” standing reach. It should come as no surprise that Bamba was second in the NCAA in block rate (3.70) and carried with him a defensive prowess reminiscent of 2-time NBA All-Defensive First Team Rudy Gobert.
Bamba’s offensive skills aren’t nearly as mature as his defensive skills, but during the pre-draft process he’s already admitted to altering his shooting form, adding to his post game and adjusting to the offensive flow of today’s NBA.
Bamba finished his lone season at Texas averaging 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game.
During the playoffs, Bamba has been working out and watching film with Joel Embiid, who Bamba said has “[given] me the cheat codes.” He also was seen training with 15-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.
It’s clear Bamba carries the mentality and physical gifts to become a defensive monster in the NBA. If his offensive skills catch up to the defense, his potential suddenly reaches All-Star heights. With an elite coaching mind and support system, there’s no reason why Bamba shouldn’t develop immensely on both ends.
“A unicorn is a mythical creature that you’ve never seen before,” said Bamba when asked about the mythical creature. “And a unicorn player, he makes plays and does stuff you’ve never seen before. A 7-footer who hits a step-back jumper: That’s a pretty unicorn-like thing. Or someone who blocks a shot off the top of the backboard, pushes it in transition and finds a shooter in the corner: That’s pretty unicorn-like. That’s something I embrace, just doing stuff not many people can do.”