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Mo Bamba to make first career start vs. Spurs

Mo Bamba

The Orlando Magic made it clear when they drafted 20-year-old center Mo Bamba No. 6 overall last summer that he’s a big part of their future. The only thing standing in the way? Their current center, Nikola Vucevic. But Bamba will finally be getting his first career start Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, due to Vucevic becoming a father.

Bamba was a well-heralded prospect coming out of the University of Texas, having averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game as a freshman last year. As a rookie in the NBA, however, his role has been limited early on. In 28 games to date, Bamba is averaging just 16.9 minutes with 6.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game.

However, his averages per 36 minutes played are exceptional. In that category, Bamba has 14.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks.

Vucevic has long been the Magic’s best player, and at 28 years old he may be having his best season. His points per game average of 20.6 is a career-high, and his 11.7 rebounds per game is extremely close to a career-best in that category. Vucevic is also shooting 40.4 percent on three-point shots, which was an addition to his game in the 2017-18 season. This is the final season of the four-year contract extension that he signed back in 2014, making Vucevic a free agent next summer.

It’s unknown what the Magic are planning to do with Vucevic. With Bamba on the roster and his free agency on the way, they’d be wise to explore trade options in the next two months ahead of the deadline. Orlando sits in 7th plate in the Eastern Conference at the start of play on Wednesday, but are just 14-15 overall.