Mac Engel

Why the Dallas Mavericks should avoid Texas center Mo Bamba

Mo Bamba, who averaged a double double in his one season at Texas, is expected to be a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday.
Mo Bamba, who averaged a double double in his one season at Texas, is expected to be a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday. AP

In the experienced eyes of one ESPN analyst, the NBA Draft has a top three: DeAndre Ayton of Arizona, Marvin Bagley of Duke and Luka Doncic of Slovenia.

"They are what they are," Fran Fraschilla told me in a recent phone interview. "After that, it's Mo Bamba, Jaren Jackson and Wendell Carter."

Like you, I am in love with DeAndre Ayton.

"There is no lock All-Star in the first seven or eight picks," Fraschilla said. "Having said that, (Ayton's) combination of size and athleticism and his give-a-damn meter ran high; I see it hard for him to fail as an NBA player. He's breathtaking when you see him in person."

Where does that leave the Dallas Mavericks exactly in addressing its need for more talent, especially in the middle, where it needs to address the void created by the Nerlens Nowhere? The team has the fifth overall pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft.

"It's possible any one of the (top) nine players could be the best player in this draft," Fraschilla said. "That means someone from five through nine could be the best player in the draft. Every single player I mention in that first nine has some bust potential, but more than likely, at the worst, they will be NBA starters.

"There's a good chance the Mavs could get the best player at that slot."

Michael Porter? Jackson? Carter? Trae Young? Mikal Bridges?

Fantastic. Any of them. Just not Bamba.

His wingspan is 7-foot-9, and he stands 7 feet tall. That alone mandates a top 10 pick.

Based on size and athleticism alone, Bamba is the most intriguing draft prospect in the class. He has 3-point range, and he can grab countless rebounds. Now watch him play.

In his one season at Texas, he averaged 12.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, and 3.7 blocks. Hardly trash numbers.

But they should have been better.

In his one season at Arizona, Ayton averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.

Bamba screams of the guy who plays basketball because he's been big since he was a kid. He's good at it because he's athletic, with the frame of a pterodactyl. He was good because it is easy for him.

The NBA exposes those guys.

Watch him at UT, and Bamba's "give a bleep" factor was too low. He leaves numbers on the floor like a calculator.

At 20, he's not going to "get it," but he can understand not mailing it in. He can understand constant effort.

Had he done those things consistently at UT under Shaka Smart, Bamba would have had better stats than Ayton.

Bamba will be a top 10 pick, which is great. Good for him.

Let him be a top 10 pick for another team, because the Mavs should not trust him with the fifth overall pick.

Kansas coach Bill Self talks about Texas forward Mo Bamba and also the Jayhawks’ 92-86 victory over Texas on Dec. 29, 2017 in Austin, Texas.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram