Some of Mo Bamba’s fellow NBA rookies recognize the value of his impressive wingspan.
In NBA.com’s annual NBA Rookie Survey, Bamba was voted the second best defender in the 2018 NBA Draft class. Bamba, who received 14 percent of the vote, trailed only Jevon Carter, a point guard selected in the second round by the Memphis Grizzlies. Here are the full results, courtesy of NBA.com:
Which rookie is the best defender?
1. Jevon Carter, Memphis -- 29%
2. Mohamed Bamba, Orlando -- 14%
3. Josh Okogie, Minnesota -- 11%
4. Mikal Bridges, Phoenix -- 9%
5. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis -- 6%
Collin Sexton, Cleveland -- 6%
Others receiving votes: DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix; Bruce Brown, Detroit; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City; Melvin Frazier Jr., Orlando; Mitchell Robinson, New York; Omari Spellman, Atlanta; Gary Trent Jr., Portland; Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio
Bamba being tabbed as one of the premier defenders of the class should come as no big surprise given his agility, footwork and, of course, his ridiculous 7’10 wingpspan. His rim protection and presence will be a welcome addition for an Orlando team that allowed 107.7 points per 100 possessions, which was tied for the 11th worst defensive rating in the league.
Six percent of voters said that Bamba will win Rookie of the Year, which was tied for fifth. Seven percent said Bamba will go on to have the best career, tied for third best. Bamba also received six votes for the player who was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the draft.
The Magic, with no desire to rush the big man’s development, are likely to bring Bamba off the bench to start the season and limit his minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bamba ends up averaging 18-20 minutes per game during his first season.
That will anger some fans and hurt Bamba’s ROY chances. But better to look at the long-term and aim for that “best career” category.