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Magic’s Mo Bamba works out with acclaimed trainer Drew Hanlen, debuts heavier physique

Drew Hanlen, Mo Bamba

Mo Bamba’s NBA debut was quietly disappointing, but the Orlando Magic don’t have to worry about his desire to come back much-improved next season. Why? Barely more than a month after his team was eliminated from the playoffs, the impossibly long-limbed big man is already back in the lab with workout guru Drew Hanlen. Perhaps most notable is that Bamba seems to be sporting a thicker physique, too.

Bamba was the sixth overall pick the 2018 NBA Draft. In 47 appearances during the 2018-19 season, he averaged 6.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in just 16.3 minutes per game, shooting 48.1 percent from the field. The University of Texas product suffered a fractured left tibia in February, ending his rookie campaign early and robbing him of the chance to get his first taste of playoff basketball.

It’s currently unclear where Bamba fits into Orlando’s long-term plans. When the team drafted him last June, incumbent starting center Nikola Vucevic hadn’t yet posted the best season of his career, one that saw him improve substantially by leaps and bounds under first-year coach Steve Clifford, long noted for an ability to get the best out of big men, en route to his first All-Star berth. Vucevic is a free agent this summer, however, and early indications suggest the Magic are undecided on his future

Moving on from Vucevic would certainly be an easier decision to make if Bamba had shown consistent flashes this season that allowed for the possibility he might be ready to start as a sophomore. Instead, he was mostly lost in 2018-19, beset by a lack of physicality on both ends and struggling to grasp high-level defensive concepts, a must for a player selected for his exceedingly rare natural tools on that side of the ball.