2018 NBA Draft prospect rankings: Big Board features new No. 2 with more upside than Deandre Ayton
Mohamed Bamba pushes Marvin Bagley III out of the spot behind Deandre Ayton
Some could argue the player with the highest ceiling is Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr., a prototypical big man for the modern NBA. Others could argue it's Luka Doncic, a do-it-all point forward who just dominated European professional ball at just age 18. Still others may look at Trae Young's numbers his freshman year at Oklahoma and point out that they are strikingly similar to Steph Curry's numbers his junior year at Davidson; if Young can put on muscle and hang with powerful NBA veterans, perhaps he can become Steph Curry 2.0.
The defensive potential is obvious: He has the height, length and shot-blocking (and shot-altering) instincts that could make him the next Rudy Gobert. But offensively Bamba's ceiling is much higher than Gobert's. We didn't get to see all of that ceiling during his one-and-done season at Texas, but for a player with his build, Bamba is surprisingly nimble, can put the ball on the floor, has a natural ability to pass out of double teams and has a sweet shooting stroke from outside. His IQ is elite – both in a basketball sense and in an off-court maturity sense. The only questions with him are whether he can put on the requisite muscle needed to hang in the post with other NBA big men, and whether he has the burning desire to become not just a good NBA player but an elite, MVP-level NBA player.
If a team decides to take Bamba with the first or second pick of this draft, instead of chastising them for not taking a supposed "sure thing," I'd raise a glass to them for getting outside the NBA draft groupthink and picking a player who has a bit of risk but an absolutely enormous upside.
Here's my latest NBA Draft Big Board Top 10 (for full rankings of the top 119 prospects, click here):
Marvin Bagley III
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Wendell Carter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr.
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