Orlando Magic big man Mo Bamba had a forgettable rookie campaign last season, which ultimately ended with a season-ending shin injury that would cost him the final few months of the season. However, following a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Bamba is primed for a breakout year for the Magic. He isn’t exactly going to take the league by storm, but he should be in store for a much better sophomore campaign — one that should help Orlando and their postseason aspirations this term.
Last season, Bamba averaged only 6.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks in 16.3 minutes of action. He played in only 43 contests before his season was cut short by injury. While on the sidelines, though, the former sixth overall pick was able to work on other aspects of his game, which should help him develop into a formidable presence down low for the Magic this season.
For one, Bamba used his time on the sidelines to soak up the game from a spectator’s perspective. That must have provided him with an improved outlook entering his second season. Bamba appears to be very observant, and watching guys like All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic ball out last season must have been a significant learning experience for the youngster.
Surely, Bamba must have sharpened the mental aspect of his game while nursing his injury from the bench.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t as if Bamba set aside the physical aspect of his game. As a matter of fact, he hit the weight room and put on a significant amount of mass and muscle. The once scrawny 7-foot-1 center now has more of an NBA player-like physique, which should allow him to be more active in the paint for the Magic. Physicality is the name of the game down low, and with much improved strength in his second year in the league, Bamba should be able to battle it out with the best of them this season.
Another thing worth noting is the fact that Orlando’s second unit has received quite an upgrade this summer. Former first overall pick Markelle Fultz is looking like he’s returning to form, and surely, the highly-touted point guard will be playing with a chip on his shoulder as he tries to remind everybody why so many people were and are so high on him.
The Magic also brought in veteran forward Al-Farouq Aminu via free agency on a three-year, $29 million deal. The 29-year-old should be an excellent addition to Orlando’s bench, and along with Fultz, Bamba should be able to play with a more formidable second unit this time around.
The Eastern Conference has become even more open this coming season and the Magic will be very eager to secure a spot in the playoffs for the second straight year. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, though, and a guy like Mo Bamba may be needed to have a breakthrough campaign in order to help Orlando’s cause.
For his part, Bamba might emerge as the X-Factor his team will need for what should be a grueling season ahead.