“Hey Mo, it’s Dave again.”
Doing a media conference with Mohamed Bamba (actually, Mohamed Karlakwan Damala Bamba) gives one a feeling of enlightenment as well as one of familiarity because of how well he interacts with people he doesn’t know.
Bamba not only paid attention to the questions being asked by the 10-15 journalists in the room, he picked up on names and affiliations.
By the time I was on my fourth question, I simply intro’d with “Hey Mo, it’s Dave again” which elicited a round of chuckles, even from Mo himself.
One of the first questions of the session was about the #1 pick and how many other players were claiming it already.
“It’s just funny hearing everyone give their own spiel about it. Everyone feels entitled to it,” he said of the #1 pick.
“But I have no entitlement to it. My whole thing is, to put it in very short sentences: I do more and I require less.”
He immediately shifted the focus to his fit with the Suns.
“The Suns team is more than a perfect fit for me,” he said. “Because it kind of fits with how they’re rebuilding and how I want to develop myself and have full impact coming on as a rookie. It’s just the perfect fit.”
Does he want to be #1 or want to go to the Suns, no matter where they pick?
“It’s more so about fit than it is about the pick for me,” he responded. “And I really feel like I’m most impactful here.”
He’s been compared to Rudy Gobert of the Urah Jazz, being that both are super-long and came into the NBA rail-thin.
“As you watched the series when they played Oklahoma City,” Bamba said. “Oklahoma would have never came back from that 25-point deficit if Rudy Gobert was on the floor. He just changes the geometry of the game.
“When he’s not blocking the shot, he’s in the back of your mind thinking about him when you’re coming across that lane. Just that one-second thinking is already an advantage, and that’s something I can definitely see myself doing at this level.”
Rudy Gobert was a +7 in a game the Jazz lost by 8. Overall, Utah won that series 4-2.
Bamba wants to contribute on offense as well as defense. He spent a lot of time explaining about changing his shooting stroke since the end of Texas’ season in three different ways, learning from widely respected skills coach Drew Hanlen.
- Firstly, changing the starting arm angle (from the hip bone to the armpit to the elbow) from a 122 degree angle to a 105 degree angle — which keeps the ball more level with his body instead of arcing back behind his head.
- Secondly, he is keeping his elbow out further from his body to keep the ball on his forefinger and thumb longer through the release — which makes for a straighter jumper.
- Thirdly, he is now keeping his body lean straight and forward on jumpers now, instead of falling back or right or left on the release.
As far as next stops on the pre-draft tour, he has a few “penciled in” that he’s excited about, but I didn’t want to say in case something come up to change his plans. “Just to learn more about more people,” he said.
He’s proud of his intelligence and thinks it will help him in the NBA.
“I have a natural ability to pick up things a lot faster than other people can,” he said. “IQ is big. Helps you on and off the court.”
He has attended a pair of Sloan Sports Analytics that are put on annually by MIT.
On the SSAC, he says “I learned a lot about injury prevention and I just learned a lot of things about different numbers and how front offices are looking at things.”
Bamba spent a minute explaining where he fits with the Phoenix Suns.
“I look at guys like Josh,” Bamba said of Josh Jackson. “He’s a great on-ball defender. He’s a young guy still learning the ropes of the league but I think having him on the ball and me back there protecting the rim will be a lethal weapon. And you have guys like T.J. [Warren] and Devin [Booker]. And I get a vet like Tyson.”
He says the Suns have everything he needs to succeed.
“I truly believe this is a good place for me,” he said of Phoenix. “A good landing spot.”
Loves the connection with Tyson Chandler, growing up a Knicks fan he was a fan of Chandler. “When he dunked it, you really felt it.” But it’s the little things he’d want to learn from Chandler on how to play in the middle in the NBA.
Most importantly, he talked about talking.
“I’m not quiet at all,” he said. “I’m very expressive. And you’ll see if you go back and really dissect film.
“I think you cannot be a great rim protector if you’re not on that back line communicating with your teammates and telling them ‘I got your help left’ ‘I got your help right’. Just adding that sense of camaraderie with your teammates takes not only your game to the next level but your whole team to the next level. And that’s when you start to see good defense turn into easy offense.
“That’s how you just crush the spirits of opposing people.”
The #1 pick train rolls on. Tomorrow, the Suns will welcome yet another candidate for the #1 overall pick. They have yet to name the person, but it looks like it will be Jaren Jackson Jr.