Mohamed Bamba could be an option for the Kings
The Sacramento Kings won’t get their pick next season, making this year’s selection especially important. As luck would have it, this year’s lottery is among the most talented in recent memory, giving them a chance to add an elite talent to build around in the coming years.
Mohamed Bamba, the lanky center from Texas, might be their best bet.
There are plenty of valid criticisms when it comes to Bamba’s game. He’s still limited offensively and needs to add strength, which is especially evident on defense. Compared to some of the other prospects in his range, he might be a bit of a project. That isn’t bad, though.
Labeling somebody a project normally comes with a negative connotation, and I’m here to refute that notion. Especially when you’re in the Kings’ position — a team that won’t compete for the next few seasons — there’s nothing wrong with taking somebody who still needs time to develop.
The only reason somebody like Bamba is labeled a project is because the long-term reward is worth the time it might take to get there. It might take a few years for Bamba to reach his ceiling, but he has the kind of game-breaking potential that Sacramento should be interested in.
At 7’0’’, Bamba’s 7’9’’ wingspan would make him the longest player in the league, surpassing Rudy Gobert. He’s averaging 3.7 blocks per game this season, emerging as one of college basketball’s most prolific rim protectors and anchoring a solid Texas team in the post.
If Bamba can keep progressing on the defensive end, he has the ability to become one of the best defensive players in the NBA. That kind of statement is always risky when discussing 19-year-olds, but Bamba’s unique physical gifts warrant it.
That’s why Bamba makes so much sense for the Kings. They’re a young team that’s still looking to find an identity, which means character and effort are their top priorities.
Bamba has always been lauded as a high-character kid who’s eager to learn, which should fit nicely in the locker room. He can also give the Kings a defensive centerpiece to build around, something they don’t currently have.
Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere are nice, young pieces in the frontcourt, but they simply aren’t good enough to avoid adding a piece of Bamba’s caliber.
This year’s class is filled with high-end bigs, and the Kings would be wise to delve into that talent pool and establish some consistency (and perhaps an identity) up front.
How Bamba fits into the offense would be interesting to see. He has shown flashes of a 3-point shot this season, but it’s not quite there yet in terms of becoming a consistent weapon. Most of his production will come as a finisher around the rim, where his length aids him greatly.
If he can polish his interior scoring and add a reliable perimeter shot, that’s another layer to his already-impressive profile. The draft, in most cases, comes down to upside, and there aren’t many guys with as much of it as Bamba.
Even in a perimeter-oriented league, having an elite interior defender is imperative. The Jazz have been one of the best teams in the league with Rudy Gobert on the floor this year, while Joel Embiid’s presence has lifted the Sixers to playoff contention.
An elite rim protector can mean the difference between defensive mediocrity and one of the best two-way teams in the league. Bamba, while not on that level yet, has the tools needed to get there down the line.
I currently have Bamba fourth on my draft board, behind DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley. That’s probably where the Kings should have him as well, so this argument is largely dependent on draft position.
With where the Kings currently stand, though, Bamba seems like a real possibility. Multiple mock drafts, including ESPN, currently have the Texas big man donning Sacramento purple next season.
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