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Bamba’s “rawness” won’t make him this year’s Number One pick

Two of the greatest basketball players ever were not picked first in the NBA Draft; Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were picked third in 1984 and 13th in 1996 respectively.

A lot goes into selecting a player in the draft and that is the reason behind Portland TrailBlazers picking guys like Sam Bowie and Greg Oden ahead of Jordan and Kevin Durant. That trend is likely to continue later this month when this year’s Draft picks are made.

In the best scenario, Mohammed Bamba should be picked first to solve Phoenix Suns porous defense while giving the team an athletic inside force to finish off lobs and block shots more than what Alex Len and Tyson Chandler have given them so far.

Atlanta Hawks ought to use the third overall pick to bring in DeAndre Ayton as an upgrade on Zach Collins with Dewayne Dedmon and Miles Plumlee to cover for his defensive flaws.

Luka Doncic should be a perfect fit in Memphis Grizzlies alongside Mike Conley Jnr. and Marc Gasol where the Slovenian’s scoring and playmaking skills will be enhanced.

However, mock drafts with days leading to the actual draft has Ayton at the number one spot, Marvin Bagley going to Sacramento Kings with the second pick, Doncic in fourth at Memphis and Bamba at Dallas Mavericks with the fifth pick.

Most mock drafts play out same on the actual day and University of Texas product Bamba could end up in Dallas alongside Dennis Smith Jnr. for many years to come. And here are more reasons to believe Phoenix Suns-who pick first-will, pass over Bamba:

Phoenix has run out of patience


Mood in the Phoenix camp is an impatient one as the team is on the clock to end its playoff drought after six years of missing out on the big dance. That feeling is compounded by star player Devin Booker’s irk about his side’s inability to play in the postseason right before he becomes a restricted free agent when the 2018-2019 season commences. Phoenix management need to get the selection right as Len and Marquesse Chriss have failed to live up to their potential, TJ Warren remains steady but not brilliant and Josh Jackson proved inconsistent in his first year in the pros.


That means going for the ready to play player in the draft which is Doncic who checks into the draft as the reigning Most Valuable Player in Europe at just 19 years with an European Championship gold medal. The Slovenia international’s personal connections to Suns Coach Igor Kokoskov sweetens the potential matchup but overlapping skills and weaknesses with Booker means Phoenix has to go in for the next best prospect, Ayton. The Bahamian’s scoring touch, body type and athleticism- 7 feet and over 230 pounds- makes him ready for heavy minutes in the starting lineup.

Bamba is too much of a potential


Closely connected to the aforementioned point, Bamba is raw compared to other highly rated prospects like Ayton, Doncic and Bagley. His developing skill is too much of a gamble to use the top pick on knowing Bamba’s offensive side will take at least three seasons to be consistent and elite. Doncic shoots three point well ditto Ayton who looks the part of a modern Wilt Chamberlain-an athletic, powerful and speedy big man who drains three pointers.

With the league emphasizing the need for a three point shooting big man, Bamba’s means of scoring- finishing off alley oop passes, dunks, tip ins and put backs- does not appeal much to league executives and Coaches. Such preferences put Ayton and company ahead of Bamba in the race to the first pick.

His play doesn’t make a number One pick


Only time will tell how high Bamba’s ceiling can be but in the present, his ceiling looks limited. Coupled with the league’s trend of three point shooting big men, he isn’t likely to follow in the footsteps of big men who got drafted high in the 90’s and 2000’s. Tyson Chandler was drafted with the second pick in 2001 with defense as his main strength ditto Dwight Howard who got picked first in 2004.

The 20 year old has drawn comparison with Utah Jazz’s Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert due to similar playing styles and physique. Gobert was drafted 27th overall in 2013 but his development makes him the second pick behind Giannis Antetokounmpo should the draft be redone according to Bamba. Even in the fantasy world, Bamba doesn’t go first in the draft and real life predictions supports this assertion.

By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter

About Basketball

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