Orlando Magic big man Mo Bamba had an abbreviated rookie campaign this past season, playing in 47 games before seeing his year end as a result of a stress fracture in his left tibia.
When Bamba was on the floor, he averaged 6.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over 16.3 minutes per game while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor, 30.0 percent from 3-point range and 58.7 percent from the free-throw line.
He certainly showed flashes of potential, particularly on the defensive end, and if the Magic don’t end up re-signing Nikola Vucevic this summer, Bamba will likely step into the starting role and immediately become Orlando’s center of the future.
But in order for Bamba to truly realize his high ceiling, he needs to make some improvements.
3. Gain Some Weight
Mo Bamba is just 21 years old, so he will naturally fill out over time. But by the same token, he isn’t a teenager like some other young bigs, and as a 7-footer at just 221 pounds, it would really behoove Bamba to gain some weight.
The University of Texas product obviously has incredible potential as a rim protector due to his athleticism and his ridiculous 7-foot-10 wingspan, but he will be much better served as a post defender if he puts on some muscle.
To be fair, this is not to say that Bamba needs to gain 40 pounds, because that would then compromise his athletic ability, which is what made him such a great prospect to begin with. However, putting on 10-20 pounds of muscle would allow him to deal with bigger players down low while also not diminishing his athleticism.
2. Either Hit 3s or Don’t Take Them
Mo Bamba attempted 70 triples during his rookie campaign, making just 21 of them. Taking 3-pointers is fine if you can hit them, but if not, Bamba should merely focus on being a Clint Capela type who gets his points in pick-and-roll situations.
But it’s clear that Bamba wants to be able to spread the floor, which means he needs to work on his perimeter shooting this summer. He shot just 27.5 percent from distance during his lone season at Texas, so it’s not like Bamba has a nice track record of being able to make 3s.
Again, there is nothing wrong with a center wanting to stretch the floor, especially in a modern NBA that calls for it, but this summer will be pivotal for Bamba’s improvement in that area.
If he comes out next season and once again struggles to hit treys, it might be time to abandon that dream completely.
1. Work on Free Throws
The biggest hole in Mo Bamba’s game is his free-throw shooting.
He isn’t young DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond at the charity stripe, but he isn’t good either, as he made just 58.7 percent of his foul shots during his rookie year and connected on 68.1 percent of his free throws in his freshman year at Texas.
If Bamba doesn’t start getting better at the line, teams are going to begin employing a hack strategy whenever he touches the ball near the rim, and he needs to make them pay in that regard.
The good news is that Bamba did shoot nearly 70 percent from the line in college, so there is certainly hope for him to improve in that area going into next season.
There is no reason why Bamba shouldn’t make at least 65 percent of his foul shots next year.