Reason #1: Mo Bamba’s defensive presence
During his time at Texas, Mo Bamba’s shot-blocking ability was undoubtedly his most notable trait. In the NBA, he has continued to excel in this area, consistently swatting shots at a high level. Throughout his career, he has averaged over two blocks per-36 minutes, with his best season being in 2021-22, where he averaged 1.7 blocks per game in just 25 minutes on average. Bamba’s physical attributes, such as his frame and length, make him a natural rim protector, and his instincts in that regard complement his natural abilities.
In the 2021-22 season, where Bamba saw increased playing time, he led the Orlando Magic in contested two-point shots per game. His average of 6.6 contested shots per game would have placed him just behind Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, who were both near eight contested shots per game in the past season. While Bamba has shown some limitations when guarding bigger and more traditional big men, having the opportunity to play alongside Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley consistently will help mitigate those weaknesses.
Additionally, Bamba has demonstrated solid defensive rebounding skills thus far in his career, averaging as many as six defensive rebounds per game in limited minutes off the bench. His defensive rebound percentage has remained around 25 percent throughout his career, indicating that he is an impactful defensive rebounder when he is on the court.
While Bamba may not have reached the level of a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber rim protector as some scouts had hoped, he still possesses the ability to come off the bench in Cleveland and provide valuable size and interior presence.