Whenever Texas big man Mohamed Bamba’s name is brought up, his 7-10 wingspan usually dominates the conversation.
It’s the largest wingspan ever measured at the NBA Draft Combine. But is that enough to entice the Bulls to draft him with the seventh pick?
That question has being kicked around the Advocate Center on a daily basis since the regular season ended.
Bamba interviewed with the Bulls last month at the combine in Chicago, and he afforded the front office a second look Friday with a private workout.
“We shot a lot of threes,’’ Bamba said. “I shot OK from three. A lot of pick-and-pop, pick-and-roll. A lot of lobs. Some of the coaches had fun throwing me lobs.’’
But the Bulls don’t need lobs. They need defense. Specifically, rim protection, which Bamba excels at.
In his 30 games with the Longhorns, Bamba set the school record with 111 blocks, averaging 3.7 a game. The Bulls are coming off a season in which they were last in the league in blocks (3.5 per game), as well as tied for last in allowing a .542 field-goal percentage.
They made life easy for opponents in the paint.
“I mean, when you look at all the categories that they struggled in, those are all things that I can step in and impact immediately,’’ Bamba said. “They were last in blocked shots. I think of myself as a pretty good shot-blocker. I feel like I can step in immediately and have an impact with this organization.’’
But, offensively, he is raw, to say the least. Bamba is a 7-footer with range, but he’s not consistent enough to even come close to Lauri Markkanen’s outside prowess.
There also are concerns about his physicality, and scouts pointed out that he seemed to float around with no purpose way too often.
Bamba defended his motor and passion Friday, insisting that sometimes outsiders like to portray a player with many outside interests as lacking passion for the game.
He is off-the-charts intelligent, speaks more than a handful of languages and dialects but made it very clear that basketball comes first.
“I owe this game my life,’’ Bamba has said on several occasions.
Finally, the reality facing the Bulls is that there’s a strong chance he won’t even be around past the top five on June 21, let alone slip to No. 7. Bamba will be hard to pass up, considering how he can change the game on the defensive end.
“My assessment is that they have a lot of talent in a lot of different areas, and this is a team for the future,’’ Bamba said when asked about a possible slide to No. 7. “It’s a very young team, and I can see myself playing here.’’