Mo Bamba Could be the Dallas Version of Rudy Gobert

AUSTIN, TX - DECEMBER 29: Mohamed Bamba
AUSTIN, TX - DECEMBER 29: Mohamed Bamba /

Rudy Gobert is one of the best players in the NBA and arguably the best center in the game. In the 2018 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks might get their own version in Mo Bamba.

Here are some excerpts from Rudy Gobert’s DraftExpress scouting report back in 2013.

"“Gobert is a relatively mobile big man, quick off his feet, and exceptionally long. His 7-8 ½ wingspan is one of the longest ever measured in our extensive database, as is his outrageous 9-7 standing reach”“Gobert has incredibly soft hands, which in addition to his phenomenal wingspan give his guards an incredibly large radius they can throw the ball to around the basket. He catches virtually anything thrown his way, making him a terrific target for lobs, which helps explain his excellent efficiency.”“He doesn’t show a very high skill-level with his back to the basket, not having the lower body strength needed to establish great position inside or a terribly diverse arsenal of footwork or post moves he can go to when his initial move is cut off”“Where Gobert really shines is on the defensive end, showing the potential to be an absolute game-changer with his terrific combination of size, length and instincts. He changes everything inside the paint and is near impossible to shoot over both in man to man defender and rotating over the weakside”"

Now, let’s take a look at Mohamed Bamba in 2018 and his DraftExpress scouting report.

"“Elite physical profile for a center prospect at 7’0, with a 7′ 9 wingspan and a 9′ 6 standing reach. Very light in his lower body (216 pounds) but has wide shoulders that are bound to fill out really nicely in time”“Has the tools to be a monster defensively. Nimble enough to step out and switch ball screens, space defending and using his huge reach to contest. Quick enough to recover to blocks at the rim if beat. Length and quick leaping should help him develop into an excellent rim protector. Good instincts and timing. Lifetime 4.1 blocks per 40 minutes. Figures to have an immediate impact on the defensive end if he’s willing to embrace that role and play with consistent energy”“Thin in his lower body. Still only 216 pounds. Not a very physical guy”"

It really is pretty wild how similar of prospects they both were coming into the draft. The obvious thing you can’t measure is the work and time Gobert has put into his game since he came into the league. He is nowhere near the player he was coming into the draft.

The crazy thing is, some people still don’t realize how elite Rudy Gobert is.

It is a false narrative that if a center is simply good at all areas of the game that he is naturally better than the center that is elite a just a few areas. But that simply isn’t the case, especially not in today’s era.

Centers that can defend the paint, roll to the rim, rebound and at least hedge off a screen defensively are proving to be more valuable across the league. Clint Capela is proving his value this year while Rudy Gobert has already proved his value over the past couple of years.

Earlier this season, Gobert missed 26 games due to injury and it looked like the Utah Jazz were destined for the lottery despite the incredible play of Donovan Mitchell. But since Gobert has returned, Utah has turned things completely around.

Since Gobert has returned to the lineup, Utah has went 22-5 with winning streaks of 11 games and nine games. His defensive metrics are off the charts, but his offensive game is what is commonly overlooked.

Former Cavs GM, David Griffin, chimed in on Gobert’s value also.

So why am I praising Rudy Gobert in a piece about the Dallas Mavericks?

Because I believe Mo Bamba can have the same type of impact on the Mavericks as Rudy Gobert has had on the Utah Jazz. Basically, take the role that Dwight Powell is in now and replace him with the seven-footer in Mo Bamba.

Imagine the lobs Powell gets now with the 7’9″ wingspan of Bamba.

This past season at Texas, Bamba averaged 12.9 ppg, 10.5 rpg and 3.6 bpg. His per-40 numbers were 17.1 ppg, 14 rpg, and 4.8 bpg. Bamba won’t be getting 40 minutes a night at the next level, but he should hover around the 25-30 minute mark his first season. Then you add in the fact that he should be surrounded by shooters in the NBA (compared to his less than stellar shooting teammates at Texas) and I think Bamba will be even more effective.

Let’s assume Dirk comes back for another season to join Barnes, Matthews and Smith Jr. in the starting  lineup. Then you hypothetically replace Powell with Bamba in the starting unit.

Suddenly, the Mavericks have four shooters around Bamba that will allow the paint to free up. Something that Bamba isn’t used to having.

Dallas would run the same type of offensive sets for Bamba like that do for Powell now, except Bamba is the better rebounder and would give Dallas a defensive presence in the pain they haven’t had since Tyson Chandler.

Speaking of Chandler, Bamba would also give Dallas a young duo that could reflect an old duo from New Orleans.

Back in the summer of 2006, Chandler was traded by the Chicago Bulls to the New Orleans Hornets where he would team up with a fiery young point guard entering his second season by the name of Chris Paul.

Chandler was 24 years old and Paul was 21.

In their first season together, Chandler averaged right at 10 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks per game. For Paul, he averaged 17 points and nine assists a game. It was a building block year for the two youngsters.

The duo, with David West, would lead the Hornets to the postseason over the next two seasons before Chandler was traded to the Bobcats in 2009.

Dennis Smith Jr. and Mo Bamba are both 20 years old.

Circling back to Gobert, he has had a stellar first five seasons in the league while also going through a rotation of point guards. Over the course of his career, his starting point guards have been Trey Burke, Raul Neto, Dante Exum, George Hill and Ricky Rubio.

I wonder how much better Gobert would be now if he had a young, star point guard growing alongside of him. I wonder the connection and duo Chandler and Paul would have made if they spent all of their early years together.

Imagine what Bamba could be growing alongside the same point guard in Dennis Smith Jr. for the next 4-8 years.

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You could even go a step further by saying Bamba could have a higher ceiling than Gobert because of his shooting ability. In his freshman season at Texas, Bamba attempted 51 three pointers. He only made 14 of them, but it is obviously an area of his game that he isn’t afraid of and that he wants to get better at.

As for the mechanics of the shot, the form isn’t bad, but at times the shot can go flat. Kristaps Porzingis probably isn’t in his future, but being able to knock down a consistent mid-range jumper would be an added bonus to what he brings.

Bamba is also intriguing off the court as he is somewhat of a brainiac. He took an unofficial visit to Harvard during his recruitment and attended the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference for two years in a row. He even announced his college decision on The Player’s Tribune in a very well written piece stating everything that went into his decision.

You can read that here.

The bottom line is, I believe Mo Bamba is the third best prospect for the Dallas Mavericks outside DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic.

He would be the true “Tyson Chandler Starter Kit” that Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle could build around and grow alongside Dennis Smith Jr.

Next: Dallas Mavericks 2018 NBA Draft Big Board 2.0

He can be the Dallas version of Rudy Gobert….and maybe even better in five years.