Whether it was throughout his storied career with the Duke Blue Devils, his brief NBA stint with the Chicago Bulls, or his considerably successful career as a college basketball analyst, Jay Williams has seen his fair share of elite rim protectors.
Add Mohamed Bamba to that list.
After just one dominant defensive season with the Texas Longhorns, the former 5-star McDonald’s All-American is off to the NBA, where he’s widely projected to be among the first name’s selected in the June 21 NBA Draft. Whether it’s with the Atlanta Hawks, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Dallas Mavericks or any other franchise with a top 10 lottery pick, Williams detailed what kind of special talent Bamba may very well become in the NBA.
“Hear me when I say this: Mo Bamba will one day be a First-Team All-Defensive player as his game goes to the next level,” Williams said via ESPN.
The eye test certainly indicates that to be possible, if not likely. Standing at 7-foot with a mind-boggling 7-foot-9.5 wingspan, which will soon be the longest in the NBA once he’s drafted, Bamba utilized his length, athleticism and tremendous shot-blocking instincts at Texas to the tune of 4.8 blocked shots per 40 minutes and 3.7 per game, which ranked second nationally. Williams added that Bamba’s game is “a splash of Rudy Gobert, a hit of Dikembe Mutombo, and just a dabble of Andre Drummond.”
“Just like Dikembe and Gobert, he always seems to be at the right place at the right time to erase defensive mistakes.”
More times than not, Bamba’s elite ability to erase defensive mistakes was on full display at Texas. Throughout his lone season with the Longhorns, Bamba blocked at least five shots nine times, including a career-best eight blocks against the Kansas Jayhawks.
This isn’t to imply that Bamba is simply a towering statue in the paint, though. Capable and willing to extend his defensive out to the perimeter, when Bamba isn’t quite able to slide his feet to remain in front of a guard, his length and timing typically erase any opportunity for a guard to capitalize on beating Bamba off the dribble. In fact, Williams went on to say that Bamba is within the one percent of big men who can effectively defend guards.
“His foot are too good, and if you do get by him, he can still block your shot with that 7-foot-9.5 wingspan looming behind you.”
Sure, there are some questions regarding Bamba’s offensive upside, but at the very least, there’s more than enough evident to suggest that drafting the Harlem (N.Y.) native will mean adding a generational rim protector. With his comparisons being to talents such as Rudy Gobert and Dikembe Mutombo, that will certainly be the expectation from whichever NBA franchise utilizes its lottery pick on the former Longhorn.