Mohamed Bamba Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Mohamed Bamba was the fourth-ranked prospect in the 2017 high school class[1].

In his one year at Texas, the seven-foot center accumulated 906 minutes of college basketball experience, while posting a 26.3 PER, averaging 17.1 points per 40 minutes on 59.3% true shooting, collecting 28.3% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor[2] and ranking fourth in the country in total blocks.

Bamba projects as a catch-and-score finisher in the pros but didn’t get the benefit of playing with someone who would set him up very well very often. There were two other NBA prospects on the team, Andrew Jones and Kerwin Roach II, but neither is a particularly special ball handler and Jones only played the first third of the season before leaving the team to battle leukemia.

Texas put in the effort to space the floor but stretch-four Dylan Osetkowski is more of a shot taker than a shot maker and Jones was the only true above average shooter the team had. As is, the Longhorns ended up rating below average in three-point attempts, makes and percentage, which didn’t offer the 19-year-old[3] many opportunities to look as great as he’s expected to be rolling hard to the rim.

Nonetheless, the Harlem, New York native still made a living getting looks near the basket, sneaking behind the defense and on put-backs, while mixing in the eventual post-up attempt here and there. Bamba also took three-pointers out of the pick-and-pop fairly aggressively. His release looks promising enough for him to keep working on it but he is not yet a real threat to make these shots often.

On the other end, Bamba also made more of an impact near the goal, not just thanks to his remarkable length but also due to good rim protection instincts. He has a lean frame within the context of his height and got bumped off his spot from time-to-time but wasn’t really exposed in the post and the defensive glass all that often, suggesting he might become a steady presence in these areas once his body matures some more.

Bamba is quite mobile for someone his size and Texas tried leveraging this by having him show high above the three-point arc or hedge against the pick-and-roll somewhat frequently. He was also asked to pick up smaller players on switches every once in a while. Bamba has physical talent to be expected to develop into an effective defender out in space but for now isn’t as much of an asset as you’d assume.

INTERIOR DEFENSE

Bamba’s top skill at this point of his development is his effectiveness as a rim protector, as he averaged 4.8 blocks per 40 minutes last season[4]. He’s also shown versatility in terms of rim protection, able to block shots coming off the weak-side in help defense, stepping up to the front of the basket as the last line of defense and defending on the ball.

Bamba is almost always alert to his responsibilities roaming around the basket, can move quickly in short areas, leaps easily off the ground out of one or two feet, has a massive nine-foot-six standing reach[5] and puts in the effort to challenge almost everything he is close by, not just via shot blocking but via verticality as well, though his explosiveness has left something to be desired in instances where he’s been asked to venture far away from the basket and then hustle back.

The fact that he contests so many shots so actively while averaging just 3.4 personal fouls per 40 minutes is also very impressive.

Bamba showed to be attentive to his boxout responsibilities, though he rarely got very physical trying to erase his man off the play. He has a lean 225-pound frame[6] in the context of his seven-foot height and is prone to getting pushed out of the way by tougher, more relentless opponents.

Nonetheless, Bamba had an athletic advantage against just about everyone he played against at the collegiate level. Thanks to his quickness reacting to the ball off the rim and ability to pursue it at a higher level than most of the competition, his defensive rebounding percentage ranked 10th in the NCAA.

Such an impact close to the basket showed up in the bottom line: Bamba averaged 30.2 minutes per game on a team that ranked 12th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency[7].

An area where he has room for improvement in terms of interior defense is developing anticipation instincts to make preventive rotations that clog driving lanes and intimidate ball-handlers from getting to the rim in the first place.

PERIMETER DEFENSE

Texas had Bamba hedging or showing hard at the three-point line a few times last season, depending on how capable of pulling up from long range the opposing point guard was.

He is certainly well coordinated out in space and has shown some ability of being able to harass and influence ball-handlers 25 feet away from the basket but is only so-so at keeping track and recovering back to this man after the blitz.

When asked to pick up smaller players on switches, Bamba has proven himself able to bend his knees to get down in a stance, keep pace off the dribble on straight line drives and block or intimidate shots defending on the ball at the basket. He’s not an option for every matchup out on an island, though, as shiftier types can shake him side-to-side and get by him.

Bamba has a remarkable seven-foot-nine wingspan but hasn’t yet learned how to shut down passing lanes around him. His average of one steal per 40 minutes is kind of a disappointment.

As is his defense against stretch big men at the three-point line. Despite his athletic ability, Bamba wasn’t very good at running shooters off their shots on closeouts.

INTERIOR OFFENSE

On offense, he is expected to earn his money in the pros as a threat on catch-and-finishes at the basket. Bamba is an explosive leaper off two feet and can play above the rim as a target for lobs, though it’s still unclear how well he can catch the ball in traffic, given Texas didn’t manage to hit him on pocket passes very often.

And because he wasn’t always very well set up, there were times Bamba had to catch the ball, take a dribble to balance himself and go up for a non-dunk finish with a body between him and the basket and in these instances, he showed appealing coordination and decent touch on non-dunk finishes – converting his 132 shots at the basket at a 78.8% clip[8].

Bamba is also very effective on the offensive glass, where he has a knack for disentangling from his man and can use his length to rebounding outside of his area – collecting 12.2% of Texas’ misses when he was on the floor. Bamba also proved himself able of translating these second chance opportunities into immediate scores often thanks to his quick second jump and explosiveness on putback dunk attempts – finishing his 49 putback attempts at a 73.7% clip.

Bamba was activated in the post quite a bit, mostly in order to ignite weak-side movement where shooters and cutters tried to free themselves of their defenders. After showing to be a more capable passer during Texas’ preseason tour in Australia, he didn’t impress as much in terms of passing instincts in the regular season, mostly only spotting wide-open teammates on evident reads – assisting on just 3.6% of Texas’ scores when he was on the floor.

Bamba struggled to set deep position in the post due to his lack of strength, often getting pushed further away from the spot he intended to catch the ball in the first place. His feet are light but he is not particularly well coordinated bumping against stronger opponents, doesn’t have much feel for handling double teams and is not very secure with the ball. His average of two turnovers per 40 minutes is too high for someone with a 21.3% usage rate.

He doesn’t have any power moves and hasn’t yet developed the use of shot fakes, head fakes, ambidexterity as finisher or turnaround jumpers at this point of his development. When he manages to get a shot off, Bamba usually goes for the basic right-handed hook over the defender’s left shoulder or a face-up jumper.

PERIMETER OFFENSE

Bamba ended up taking fewer long range bombs than I expected when I wrote about him in the preseason but he was still an above average shot taker for a center, getting up 51 three-point attempts in 30 appearances, at a pace of 2.3 such shots per 40 minutes.

He established himself as a capable open shot shooter for now, able to take three-pointers from the top of the key joining the offense late as the trailer in transition and from around the wing out of the pick-and-pop if left wide-open by the defense.

His release has become a bit more fluid, one without a particularly quick trigger but with somewhat comfortable mechanics for someone his size. He doesn’t often get good arc on his shot and his touch is only so-so, though.

Overall, Bamba is not yet any sort of a real floor-spacer. The ball still doesn’t go in a whole lot, as he nailed just 14 three-point shots the entire season. His 68.1% shooting on 119 free throws also put into doubt how real his potential as a shooter truly is.


[1] According to ESPN

[2] According to our stats’ database

[3] DOB: 5/12/1998

[4] According to sports-reference

[5] According to Draft Express

[6] According to Texas’ official listing

[7] According to Ken Pomeroy

[8] According to hoop-math

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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Mohamed Bamba Scouting Report

(First posted at RealGM)

CONTEXT

Mohamed Bamba is known for his physical profile and athletic ability. The 19-year-old[1] measured at seven-feet and 216 pounds with a remarkable seven-foot-nine wingspan at this year’s Nike Hoop Summit, where he looked like the prototypical center for this pick-and-roll driven era of basketball due to his explosiveness leaping off the ground in a pinch to finish lobs and block shots.

But the Harlem, New York native used Texas’s preseason trip to Australia to show people his skill level is ahead of expectations as well. He was very aggressive unleashing jumpers from the elbows on post-ups and from three-point range out of the pick-and-pop, showed to have some feel for the game in terms of helping facilitate offense and looked to bring the ball up himself whenever he could after collecting a defensive rebound.

These long bombs don’t go in the basket a whole lot yet and he isn’t really one of these new age big men who can initiate offense from the perimeter but Bamba did quite a bit in that four-game trip to suggest his ceiling now goes beyond the easy comparison to DeAndre Jordan that most people like to make.

Defensively, he is a very impactful player close to the basket due to his physical prowess and hinted he might offer his coach flexibility in terms of how to defend the pick-and-roll, given his level of comfort shuffling his feet out in space but hasn’t yet developed into the sort of player who can lift his unit above its means, as Texas got lit up by two of the three Australian NBL teams it faced during the trip.

SKILL LEVEL

What Bamba did the most during preseason was catch the ball on the elbow area on either side of the floor, as Texas entered it to him on post-ups a fair amount. Unable to set deep position as of now, he showed a strong preference for turning and facing his defender. Most opponents sagged off him, unaware or unafraid of his potential to hurt them from range, and Bamba responded by being quite an aggressive shot taker when given the space.

His release is a bit methodical and a bit mechanical but Bamba elevates with decent balance and has enticing touch on his shot.

When his defender played up on him, Bamba often tried to drive around him. His handle is very decent for someone his size and he’s well coordinated but lacks the strength to maintain his balance and his momentum forward through contact.

The few times here and there that Bamba tried to back down his man, he worked to set up a turnaround right-handed hook over the defender’s left shoulder. His footwork was not particularly impressive but Bamba at least showed he doesn’t have cement feet. His touch is only OK, though.

But in the game against Melbourne, when a defender forced him to turn to his off hand, Mamba attempted a right-handed push shot in awkward balance, instead of opting for a left-handed hook or a turnaround, fadeaway jumper, suggesting he doesn’t yet have these assets in his arsenal at this point of his development.

His passing is a lot more advanced than expected, though. Texas played through him a little bit in the high post, on plays designed for him to catch, turn, face his man and then enter the ball to a perimeter player cutting to the area near the basket made vacant by Bamba drawing his man out. He also flashed some ability to hit cutters out of doubles with his back to the basket and kick-out to spot-up shooters out of the short roll.

He’s projected as a pick-and-dive threat out of the pick-and-roll but whenever Bamba set ball-screens in Australia, he mostly popped out the three-point line and wasn’t shy of letting it fly. He needs to speed up his release but proved he can take open shots rather comfortably. He also made a habit of hanging back changing ends, so he could get an open three up as the trailer in the transition.

Much like his no-dribble jumper out of triple threat position, his catch-and-shoot release looked a bit mechanical and methodical, though his touch seemed very decent. He gets off the ground a decent amount for a seven-footer, it’s not a set shot, but lets the ball go from the side, instead of out in front.

Though the threes he made and how confident he was at taking them were a bit stunning, the most surprising skill Bamba showed was the ability to grab and go off a defensive rebound. His handle is OK and he looked well coordinated bringing the ball up. He even flashed a light hesitation dribble to get by his man in transition and tried to take it end-to-end a couple of times but his touch on non-dunk finishes is only so-so at this point of his development.

ATHLETIC ABILITY

Bamba didn’t roll to the basket a whole lot and when he did, a weak-side defender rotated in to take away the lob but he had chances to finish a couple of alley-oops sneaking behind the defense. Bamba can explode off the ground with some space to take flight and has a massive nine-foot-six standing reach to play above the rim.

But from an athletic-standpoint, Bamba struggles in plays that require strength and physicality of him due to his lean frame. He can’t set deep post position in the post, has no power moves and lacks force to go up strong through contact off a standstill after collecting offensive rebounds.

Defensively, Bamba struggles to hold his ground in the post and though he is attentive to his boxout responsibilities, it was rare to see him completely erase an opponent out of a battle under the glass.

But while he doesn’t grow into his body, Bamba can rely on that massive standing reach to contest shots effectively defending the post, even when the opponent knocks him back some, and he’s proved to have quick instincts chasing the ball off the rim, aside the fact he has that remarkable seven-foot-nine wingspan to rebound outside his position.

That said, what’s enticing about Bamba’s agility is his potential defending the pick-and-roll extending above the foul line and covering a lot of ground in help-defense. When these pro teams ran pick-and-roll with the center as the screener, Texas didn’t ask Bamba to go meet the ball-handler at the point of attack but had him step up to prevent the opponent from turning the corner right away, which he proved very comfortable doing out in space.

Texas didn’t have him picking up smaller players on switches at any moment but Bamba seems to be the exact sort of big who has a shot of keeping pace with such types out on an island, though it’s unclear if that’s truly the case yet.

What it’s clear is that Bamba will be a constant shot blocking threat near the basket, elevating out of two feet stepping up to protect the front of the rim and out of one foot coming the weak-side in help-defense. The expectation is he should average about three blocks per 40 minutes at the college level.

[1] Who turns 20 only in March

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

Mohamed Bamba Scouting Report

  • Bamba scored 14 points on 14 minutes on Texas’ 96-84 win against the Dandenong Rangers — a team from Australia’s second division, on Tuesday.
  • His first score was on a catch-and-shoot three-pointer off a pick-and-pop on Texas’ second offensive possession of the game. His release looked a bit mechanical and methodical, though with very decent touch. He gets off the ground a decent amount for a seven-footer, it’s not a set shot, but lets the ball go from the side, instead of out in front.
  • Bamba was very aggressive pulling the trigger from the outside.
    • He took another three-pointer after making sure to space beyond the arc against Dandenong’s zone that missed;
    • Then he missed an uncontested turnaround right elbow jumper off the catch in the middle of Dandenong’s zone;
    • Then he made a no-dribble jumper from the left elbow turning and facing his defender on a post-up;
    • Then he missed a one-dribble pull-up fading to his left on the right side of the mid-post area after also turning and facing his defender.
  • Bamba got most of his touches in the post and showed a strong preference for turning, facing his defender and launching a jumper[1], with the exception of one possession at the start of the second quarter when he set decent position in the mid-post, took a dribble to set himself up and launched a right-handed turnaround hook over the defender’s left shoulder that went in. His footwork was not particularly impressive but Bamba at least showed he doesn’t have cement feet.
    • There was also a play where Bamba caught in the elbow area, turned and faced his defender, spot a cutter working baseline and delivered a nice pass that his teammate bobbled and lost out of bounds.
  • Texas did not put him in the pick-and-roll but Bamba proved himself able to play above the rim as a target for lobs with his massive nine-foot-six standing reach on a play where he sneaked behind the defense and finished an alley-oop.
  • Bamba’s most impressive plays from a skill-standpoint were when he drove from the top of the key to the rim and earned two free throws attacking out of triple threat position after trailing behind a play in transition and when he collected the ball after a deflection and took it end-to-end for a short jumper from just outside the restricted area. The exciting part of that grab-and-go is that it wasn’t on a straight-line; Bamba had to escape a steal attempt at half-court and then contain his momentum not to commit an offensive foul when an opponent challenged his shot. His coordination on both plays were equally as impressive as his ball-handling.
  • Bamba was only stressed in pick-and-roll defense once, showcasing decent agility for someone his size showing-and-recover to his man in a timely manner.
  • He proved himself a proactive help defender coming off the weak-side to act as a shot blocking threat, able to come off the ground with ease, aside from having such a giant reach.
  • Bamba also put his length[2] to use rebounding outside of his area, which will be key for him on the defensive glass as much as on the other end because while he seemed attentive to his boxout responsibilities, Bamba only plays with so-so physicality and sometimes doesn’t completely erase the opponent off the play or gets pushed out of his position.

[1] Bamba has a lean 216-pound frame in the context of his seven-foot height, so it’s understandable why he doesn’t look to play a physicality-oriented style

[2] Seven-foot-nine wingspan

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara