Saturday, April 28, 2018

2018 NBA Draft: Mo Bamba Fever

I have Mo Bamba Fever.

For long time readers and folks who know my basketball proclivities, this will not be a surprise. I have a well known affection for shot blockers and wingspan, so the fact that I am being drawn to a player with 7'9 wingspan and massive shot blocking instincts should not be that big of a spoiler.

Bamba, however, has shown a lot more to me than just highlight reel blocked shots, though there are many of those, more so than anyone in this lottery group, for sure. Watching his tape, he has shown a more developed offensive game than I saw Rudy Gobert carry into his draft season. He has a solid touch on his jump shot, hook shot and off the square/around the basket shots. He moves his feet very well, I believe, on both sides of the floor, making the most of his defensive presence by playing both his man on rolls to the hoop and the ball handler, incredibly disrupting those plays and ably covering for his beaten teammate.

I love players like Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo going into drafts (and wrote about them at that time) because they show physical differentiations that other players will never have. There is more to it than just differentiation, obviously, because they have to play basketball well, too, but once you have established that they aren't lost on the basketball court, then their physical attributes raise them above their peers.

In this draft, Bamba is the only one that fits the bill. I love Marvin Bagley's offensive skill set, Luka Doncic's versatile offensive game, Jaren Jackson Jr's defensive instincts and Deandre Ayton's athleticism and size, but Bamba's combination of game changings defensive skills, nose for the basketball around the glass and able jump shot make him my (current) favorite target for the Hawks in the lottery.

This is good for me, as a fan and ardent Bird Watcher, because this means the Hawks won't have to win the lottery to get Bamba, as Ayton and Doncic are, currently, consensus 1-2 in this draft and there are many who will always have bias against longer players like Bamba for looking more unpolished, like they did with Gobert.

The highlights above, from YouTube channel NBA Scouting Report (who is doing the best DraftExpress impression with their approach, of which I approve since Givony and Schmidt have moved to ESPN and are not producing such content), show the good and bad of Bamba (and other lotto picks, too, in other clips) and Bamba leaps off the screen to me more than any other pick.

So put me in the Bamba camp, no matter where the Hawks are picking. Even the top pick of the draft.

Disagree? Like other clips of lotto picks? Let's discuss in the Comments Area or on Twitter @JasonWalkerNBA.

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