Ever since the Orlando Magic traded Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2012, they’ve lacked rim protection. With the selection of Mohamed Bamba sixth overall on Thursday night, that will no longer be an issue.
Bamba holds one of the longest wingspans ever recorded at 7-foot-10 inches. At Texas, he terrorized opposing players with his length, recovering to block shots from all over the court. Many analysts have compared Bamba to Utah’s Rudy Gobert, arguably the best rim protecting big man in the league.
Bamba isn’t a perfect defender yet. He struggles some covering players in space, and needs to improve his footwork overall. He’s depended on his length to recover on players, which could get him into some foul trouble in the league.
Despite those few shortcomings, he likely comes in and makes the Magic one of the better defensive teams in the league. With last years sixth overall pick, Jonathan Isaac, and restricted free agent Aaron Gordon likely coming back, the trio can form one of the best defensive units in the league.
In his limited time last year, Isaac showed off the charts defensive instincts. His ability to guard players in space, switch on to smaller players, and play passing lanes, gives the Magic a versatile option that can wreck havoc.
In his career, Gordon has always shown a want to take on the oppositions best offensive player. He can switch in the pick-and-roll, and has shown an ability to get after players and be physical with them, but also stick with them around the perimeter.
Adding in a safety valve in Bamba could make Gordon and Isaac that much more dangerous. With Bamba’s ability to protect the rim, the two forwards will be able to be a little more physical, and gamble more, especially going for steals and getting the team out on the fast break.
Finding someone who can contribute defensively at the guard position will be the Magic’s next task. Gordon, Isaac and Bamba will be able to do a lot, but without someone at the head of the snake that can stay in front of the opposing point guard, the Magic could see some struggles early on.
Despite that, the Magic finally have their identity.
Since the beginning of their rebuild, the Magic have desperately wanted to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. Now, with their young, long core, the Magic finally have the chance to become one of the best defensive units in the league.