Following the NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday evening, draft analysts can now make more educated guesses about how the June 21 event will unfold, with ESPN and Sports Illustrated among a handful of outlets predicting that the Dallas Mavericks will select former Texas Longhorns forward Mohamed Bamba with the fifth pick. From SI:
Dallas needs to fill a long-term void in its frontcourt, and despite dropping a couple of spots will still have an opportunity to do that with this selection. Bamba’s high-end defensive potential makes him a worthwhile player to invest resources in long-term. Much will be made of his 7’9” wingspan and 9’6” standing reach, and some think he’s agile enough to eventually defend in space. His offensive game is rudimentary, but his skill level continues to improve and he may be able to space the floor in time. Chief concerns from NBA teams have centered on his competitiveness, which he can help address during the pre-draft process. He should thrive in interviews and workouts.
The results of the NBA Draft Combine, which is getting started in Chicago, could also factor into future mock drafts. So far, the information coming out is limited to player measurables, but Bamba is as advertised in that regard, measuring at just over 6’11 in bare feet with a 7’10 wingspan at 225 pounds. So, his wingspan is actually longer than previous believed.
One of the keys for Bamba in the pre-draft process will be convincing evaluators that he’s fully invested in the game, as Gary Parrish noted:
The only concern I’ve heard is that he’s such a bright young man with so many interests that some wonder if he actually wants to live in the gym, which is a prerequisite to NBA stardom. But his positives seem to outweigh any negatives, real or otherwise.
Former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen dealt with similar questions during the pre-draft process and it makes about as much sense with Bamba as it did with Rosen. Especially considering the recent article from The Ringer that extensively details just how hard Bamba is working to get better and how dedicated he is to the game.
Bamba tends to enjoy himself on the court and he did have problems as a freshman in being fully engaged every second he was on the court, but he improved significantly in that regard as the season went along. It’s also not uncommon among young players, especially big men, who can impact the game so easily — they simply haven’t learned what it means to give max effort all the time.
Given how hard Bamba has worked to improve through the pre-draft process, however, he should be able to show enough progress to mitigate any concerns about his motor.