Atlanta Hawks 2018 Draft Pick Profile: Mohamed Bamba

AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 27: Mohamed Bamba
AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 27: Mohamed Bamba /

Perhaps the most decorated defensive player in the lottery this year (Jaren Jackson Jr. being the only other candidate), Mo Bamba comes into the draft looking like a surefire top 8 pick. If Atlanta wants to prioritize defense, taking Bamba could be the team’s first tentative step in that direction.

The most striking attribute for Bamba is his length, which is downright ridiculous. Though “only” 6’11” and 255 pounds, Mo has a Mr. Fantastic-esque 7’9” wingspan and 9’6” standing reach – the prospect of that kind of length at the center position is appetizing and comparisons of Rudy Gobert would follow Bamba around for sure.

Though still rail-thin, Bamba has broad shoulders that make it clear that he still has room to tack on more muscle mass, and once he does, he becomes a surefire positive on the defensive end.

Statistically, Bamba was 2nd in the entire country in blocks per game (3.6), 4th in total blocks (109) and 3rd in block percentage (12.9). Due to his size and length, Bamba was also a terrific rebounder – 10th in the country with a 28.2 percent defensive rebound percentage – and finished with 316 total rebounds on the season (220 DREBS, 96 OREBS).

Though seemingly a no-downside pick, Bamba is extremely raw on offense and he was not able to carry a limited Texas team very far (falling in the first round of the NCAA Tournament). Still though, pairing him with John Collins up front would allow Mo to carry weight as a lob target – allowing Collins to stretch his wings (as it were) as a facilitator and freelancer in the middle – a role he looked comfortable in for short stretches late in the season for the Hawks.

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Despite his immense length and size, his true shooting percentage hovered just below 60 percent for much of the season, finishing at 59.3 percent. For a player of his stature and length, you’d think he would be able to finish at a higher clip than that.