Prospect Watch: Mo Bamba is raw and talented, but will take some work
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It's immediately obvious why Mo Bamba would capture the imagination of NBA scouts everywhere.

The 19-year-old towers over collegiate competition with his unthinkable 7-foot-9 wingspan. Bamba commands such a sheer sphere of influence around the rim that most college players, even full-bodied seniors, have no answers. Bamba is too big and too quick to be contained.

Look beyond his obvious athletic prowess, and that's where the limitations start to show. Like most freshman centers, Mamba is largely unpolished on both ends of the floor. His scoring touch is questionable, and he's overeager on defense, although his otherworldly athleticism papers over all manner of sins.

Here's a look at the strengths and weakness of Bamba, who is a lock to be picked in the lottery in the upcoming 2018 NBA Draft.


Athletic in the paint

As mentioned, Bamba is an athletic marvel. He stands solidly above 7-feet with an absurd 9-foot-6 standing reach, which gives him roughly the same dimensions of a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.

Bamba also happens to be extremely quick, both with his lateral movement and in getting off the ground. He's nimble enough to hang with guards on switches, while also being mobile enough to serve as a devastating weak side defender.

That mix of skills sees Bamba racking up blocks in bunches. He's averaging 5.2 rejections per 40 minutes, and already has games of seven and eight blocks so far this season.

That same athleticism also also allows him to finish above the rim, usually in spectacular fashion.

(courtesy: Ballislife)

Promising shooter

Bamba is best served around the basket, but he has also flashed the inkling of a functional outside shot.

To be clear, nobody should confuse Bamba for a sharpshooter. He's largely unguarded out on the perimeter and he's shooting 28.3 percent from the college 3-point line. But the form looks fine (it's a bit off to the side but nothing major) and he's confident with his looks, so that counts for potential.

It's worth monitoring over the remainder of the season if the 3-point shot can become a legitimate weapon for Bamba. He already has a decent handle for his position, and being able to hit from outside could open up a devastating face-up game.


Needs to fill out frame

Bamba is still a teenager, so he has plenty of growth ahead of him, but he's far too slender at the moment to be successful at the pro level.

He weighs a wispy 216 pounds which makes him vulnerable against shorter players with stocky constitutions. Bamba succeeds despite his limitations against college players, but he would be bullied by most small forwards in the league. He's too light to hold his position, and this would limit him on both ends of the floor.

Again, Bamba should fill out given a proper conditioning program, but his frame is also rather small. His shoulders are broad but his waist is thin, which is the main reason why the Rudy Gobert comparisons aren't accurate.

To be an effective pick-and-roll threat, you first need to set a wide screen to gain a 2-on-1 advantage. Bamba can definitely explode off the ground, but it's easy for defenders to elude his picks.

Very raw

Bamba has decent touch and good instincts, so as long as he stays focused and committed to improving, the moves will come.

However, he doesn't have a reliable go-to move as of yet. Bamba's size and activity should mean he can get some hustle points around the rim, but he needs something bankable otherwise defenses will ignore him.

He won't ever be a post-up player, but it wouldn't hurt to add a hook shot or a short baseline jumper.

Prospect Watch: Mo Bamba is raw and talented, but will take some work
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