Potential Atlanta Hawks #1 Draft Pick: Marvin Bagley III vs Mohamed Bamba

PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 24: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Duke Blue Devils grabs a rebound in front of Mohamed Bamba #4 of the Texas Longhorns as Wendell Carter Jr #34 closes in during the first half of the game during the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational presented by State Farm at the Moda Center on November 24, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Duke won the game 85-78. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - NOVEMBER 24: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Duke Blue Devils grabs a rebound in front of Mohamed Bamba #4 of the Texas Longhorns as Wendell Carter Jr #34 closes in during the first half of the game during the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational presented by State Farm at the Moda Center on November 24, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Duke won the game 85-78. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /
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PORTLAND, OR – NOVEMBER 24: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Duke Blue Devils grabs a rebound in front of Mohamed Bamba #4 of the Texas Longhorns as Wendell Carter Jr #34 closes in during the first half of the game during the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational presented by State Farm at the Moda Center on November 24, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Duke won the game 85-78. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR – NOVEMBER 24: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Duke Blue Devils grabs a rebound in front of Mohamed Bamba #4 of the Texas Longhorns as Wendell Carter Jr #34 closes in during the first half of the game during the PK80-Phil Knight Invitational presented by State Farm at the Moda Center on November 24, 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Duke won the game 85-78. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /



Bagley III isn’t a great shooter, however, he’s shown a solid stroke, and the potential to improve in that area. He has a solid form on his shot and makes a good amount of mid-range jump-shots. Marvin shot 39.7% from 3 point range, on a limited number of attempts. (1.8 per game) The only concern in the shooting category for Bagley is his free throw shooting. He shot a measly 62.7% from the charity stripe.


Mo Bamba possesses decent form on his jump shot. Unfortunately, his form has yet to translate to game action, but Mo has shown the ability to knock down elbow jump-shots. Bamba only shot 27.5% from 3, but should improve on that, with practice at the next level. Mo has recently reworked his release to be higher, which should take even more advantage of his height.

Advantage: Bagley solidly.


Bagley III

While MB3 possesses good quickness and athletic ability, the defense is far from his calling card. He has the lateral footspeed to stay with smaller players on the perimeter but lacks the defensive footwork. Marvin is known to shy away from contact inside, on the defensive end. He often seems more concerned with staying out of foul trouble, than with making a stop. He’s a decent on-ball post defender due to his strength, but offers little else, as he averaged less than 1 block, and 1 steal per game. Bagley must improve on the defensive end if he doesn’t want to be targeted as a liability in the NBA.

The Front office via SI’s draft analyst Jeremy Woo, expounds on Marvin’s weakness on D, as well as some strengths, in this short clip.


The defensive end of the court is where Mo Bamba will make his money. Mo uses his length and good timing, to block and alter a plethora of shots. He blocked an incredible 3.7 shots per game! Bamba also has outstanding lateral quickness. He’s often able to stay in front of much quicker guards, after switching the pick and roll. When a guard does get by Bamba, he possesses the length and recovery speed, to often block the shot anyway. Bamba makes all of these plays on defense while averaging a minuscule 2.5 fouls a game. Mohammed projects as an elite level rim protector and has the potential to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, at the NBA level. The only real weakness he has on that end is post defense. He’s able to be bodied up on the block by contact, due to his lack of strength, often giving up an easy basket. Mo can also use his length to create more steals, as he swiped less than 1 steal per game.

Draft Express breaks down Bamba’s defense in this video:

Advantage: Bamba by a mile

Ball Security and Awareness:

Bagley III

MB3 could definitely stand to improve in the area of ball security. He can be a ball stopper at times, as he dished only 1.5 assists, compared to 2.3 turnovers per game. He had a 12.2 turnover percentage, and an 8.8 assist percentage. It is essential that Bagley improve his awareness on the offensive end, as he often holds the ball too long. He frequently misses cutters, and open shooters, opting instead to take a contested shot inside. Bagley also needs a significant improvement, in awareness on the defensive end. MB3 often loses track of cutters coming through the lane and fails to call out screens to his teammates.


Ball security and offensive awareness, are major issues for Mo Bamba. Bamba averaged a microscopic 0.5 assist, compared to 1.5 turnovers a game. That’s a horrid 1 to 3, assist to turnover ratio. He had an assist percentage of only 3.6, and a turnover percentage of 12.3. Bamba has some lapses of defensive awareness but is better than average in that department.

Advantage: Push Bagley is a better passer and slightly better at ball security, with a much higher usage rate. Bamba has better defensive awareness.



Marvin Bagley has a 1st rate motor on the offensive end. He goes hard at all times. MB3 is relentless on the boards. His 2nd and 3rd jumps are as quick, and as frequent, as the best rebounders to come out, in the last 10 years. Bagley is particularly dominant on the offensive boards. He’s excellent at following his shot. Bagley is a 1st rate rim runner and runs the floor relentlessly. As hot as his motor runs on the offensive end, Bagley III’s motor run nearly as cold on the defensive end. He often seems to rest on defense, as he carries a heavy load on offense. Bagley needs to more evenly distribute his efforts, to both sides of the court.


Mo Bamba’s motor is known to run hot and cold, on both ends of the floor. When motivated, Bamba uses his length and speed to be a superior rim runner. His motor is better on the defensive end than on offense. However, Mo can still be seen loafing on defense, at times. Bamba is used to dominating his opponents, with his length and physical ability, so he has to be mindful to play hard at all time. An effort will be needed on the next level, as most players are very talented physically.

Advantage: Bagley


Marvin Bagley interviewed quite well for the Hawks media. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder, about the fact that DeAndre Ayton is considered the consensus number one overall pick, and that’s a good thing. Bagley seemed to be in denial when asked about his defense or lack thereof. He also seemed to get agitated when questioned about his lack of length. This isn’t a good thing but is understandable, considering how many times he’s probably been asked the same questions.

You can watch the post-workout interview here courtesy of Fox Sports South:


Mohamed Bamba is an excellent interview. He’s extremely well spoken and articulate. It only takes a few lines of him speaking, for a listener to detect his intelligence and personality. Mo seems to have a genuine desire to play for the Atlanta Hawks and to be great. Bamba also seems to be very marketable.

Advantage: Bamba

Head to head:

MB3 and Bamba squared off against each other, as Duke faced Texas on 10/25/17. The matchup took place in Portland, Or, at the semifinals of the PK80 Invitational. Mohamed Bamba finished the game with 9 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, 0 assists, 0 steals, and 1 turnover. Mo was 3-7 from the field, 3-4 from the free throw line, and 0-2 from deep. Bama had a difficult time with Bagley and Wendell Carter Jr. He had zero offensive rebounds, and fouled out with :38 left in regulation. He logged only 26 minutes, due to foul trouble.

Bagley, on the other hand, was tremendous. Marvin finished with a career-high 34 points in the contest! He also added 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks and had 3 turnovers. He was an efficient 12-19 on fgs, 1-2 from 3, and 9-13 from the foul line. MB3 lead Duke from 16 points down, to a thrilling 85-78 overtime victory.

The Big 12 provides highlights of the contest here:

Advantage: Bagley in a major way!

Fit with the Atlanta Hawks:


Marvin Bagley III fits with the Atlanta Hawks as a go-to scorer. He isn’t the best fit defensively, position wise, or spacing wise , with All-Rookie 3rd team forward John Collins. However, I’m of the belief, that if Bagley is the highest rated player left on your board, his potential as a #1 or #2 offensive option, is too high to pass up. He offers added value, as a potential league-leading level rebounder. This is sorely needed, as the Atlanta Hawks ranked 25th on the glass last season.


Mohamed Bamba would be an excellent fit for the Atlanta Hawks positionally, as a starting Center, and a defensive anchor. Bamba would potentially give the Atlanta Hawks their best rim protector, since Dikembe Mutombo wagged his finger, at opposing offensive players. Spacing wise, he isn’t the ideal fit based off his shooting percentage, but as I mentioned earlier, he has a high potential to improve, in that aspect. A lot like Bagley, Mo would also give the Atlanta Hawks, a much-needed jolt in the rebounding department.

NBA comparisons:

Bagley III

Young Derek Coleman / Athletic Zach Randolph

Many experts compare MB3 to a young Chris Bosh, but he reminds me more of a young Derek Coleman or a more athletic Zach Randolph. A lot like Colman he’s versatile with a post game, jump shot, and the ability to drive. He carries a higher motor than Coleman but not the passing ability. He’s crafty around the rim, and a relentless glass cleaner like Zach Randolph, yet more versatile. Worse case scenario I can imagine for MB3 is he becomes a bigger, Shawn Marion level role player, on the boards, and offense. He will never be the on-ball perimeter defender, Marion was, however. If this scenario were to be realized, MB3 would be a useful Garbage man for the Atlanta Hawks, but not the centerpiece many foresee.


Rudy Gobert with a jump-shot

Mo Bamba most closely resembles Rudy Gobert, in stature, and skill. They very have similar wingspans. Bamba should develop into a similar level rim protector, as he gets stronger. The difference is, Bamba is much further along as a shooter at this stage, and should be much better as a marksman, ultimately. The worse case scenario that I can conjure for Mo, is he never develops offensively, and is a role player in the mold of Theo Ratliff with more range on his shot. He should also be a better rebounder than Ratliff, Sean Brady or Manute Bol. Were the Atlanta Hawks to draft Bamba, anything short of multiple shot blocking titles, and at least 1 DPOY award, would be disappointing based on his potential.

Expert Rankings:

SI’s The Front Office expert NBA Draft analyst Jeremy Woo, projects Marvin Bagley III to be chosen #2 overall by the Sacramento Kings and ranks him 4th on his big board.

Woo offers this analysis of MB3’s game:

"An athletic leaper and high-energy presence on the inside, Bagley was one of college basketball’s most productive players after reclassifying out of high school to accelerate his pro timeline. He’s an impressive talent at his size, moves fluidly and utilizes his quickness and multiple-jump burst to rebound, score in the paint and manufacture easy baskets at an elite clip. It’s hard to argue with his numbers, and with more shooters and playmakers around him, Bagley’s life should get even easier. There’s a lot of room for improvement: he’s extremely left-hand dominant as a scorer and sorely needs to expand his skill set, including a jump shot that must improve for him to really thrive as a four-man. Defensively there’s some fear he may end up stuck between positions, as he’s not much of a shot-blocker and looked lost at times. But he still has a lot of room to grow, and as a baseline should become a productive offensive player who puts up numbers, potentially early in his career."

NBA Scouting Report provides this in-depth video breakdown of MB3′ skills and areas of improvement.

SI’s The Front Office draft guru Jeremy Woo, mocks Mo Bamba #6 to the Orlando Magic and slots him at #5 on his big board.

Woo provided this breakdown on Mo Bamba:

"Bamba boasts rare length and verticality that should translate to serious defensive impact, and in terms of upside he belongs in this top group of prospects. A massive 7’10” wingspan allows him to contest, alter or block most any shot within his area, and he has enough mobility as an athlete to add a level of intrigue on top of that if he can learn to cover even more ground. If he can pack more muscle and core strength onto his slender frame, he could be an All-NBA defender. Bamba’s offensive game is unfinished, but he has some shooting touch and developing skills around the basket, and should be able to threaten as a lob-catcher based on his tools. His skills have improved, but he’ll have to make it translate into game situations. Some scouts have questioned Bamba’s competitiveness and toughness playing in the paint, and his interest level appeared to waver at times this season, but he’s a cerebral player with a lot of untapped ability. Bamba’s long-term upside as a team’s defensive backbone is substantial."

NBA Scouting report offers this comprehensive breakdown of Bamba’s strengths and weaknesses.

My Rank:

Marvin Bagley III has moved up a spot to #3, on my final small board ranking, for the Atlanta Hawks #3 overall pick. Mohamed Bamba moved up a spot as well, to #4 in my rankings. This is mainly due to news about Michael Porter Jr’s hip spasms. New reports surfaced today, that MPJ is fine, and the initial injury reports are exaggerated. However, with Porter Jr already having injury concerns, I would now be terrified of drafting him, if I were Atlanta Hawks’ General Manager Travis Schlenk.

My current rankings for the Atlanta Hawks top pick are:

1. Deandre Ayton
2. Trae Young
3. Marvin Bagley III
4. Mo Bamba
5. Luka Dončić
6. Michael Porter Jr.
7. Wendell Carter Jr.
8. Jeren Jackson Jr.

The winner of our matchup

Marvin Bagley III

Marvin Bagley wins our category comparison, by a vote of 4-2-1. Despite Bagley winning by a comfortable margin, which player a team prefers, is subjective based on needs. It’s reported that the Boston Celtics are trying to find a way to trade up for Mo Bamba. This makes perfect sense for a team like Boston, as they are loaded with offensive weapons, and likely view Bamba’s defense as the missing ingredient to their title recipe. However, for a team like our Atlanta Hawks, who are devoid of top-notch options on offense, I can’t fathom GM Travis Schlenk, selecting Mo Bamba over Marvin Bagley III.

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