This morning, Bam Adebayo entered his name in the NBA Draft without signing an agent, leaving the opportunity for a possible return after draft evaluations. It would still be a shock to see the 6’10 forward return for another year at Kentucky, but the news is extremely interesting nonetheless.
Mohamed Bamba, the five-star 6’11 big man out of Harlem, New York, is the prized recruit waiting for the college basketball dust to settle before making a decision. He has said he is in no hurry to make a decision, willing to wait till mid-May to announce. With May 24 being the last day to withdraw from the pool of NBA Draft entrants, we may not hear a decision for Bamba until Adebayo officially decides to return to school or stay in the draft.
I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive. Honestly, I think Adebayo at the power forward position and Bamba at center would be an unbelievable and unstoppable duo down low, and Bamba could certainly be swayed on that possibility alone. This would almost certainly push one of Tai Wynyard, Isaac Humphries, or Sacha Killeya-Jones out the door from a pure numbers standpoint, but the opportunity for this combination is just too intriguing to pass up.
For argument’s sake, however, let’s say Kentucky can only have one next season:
Argument for Bam Adebayo:
Late in the year, Adebayo was a force down low on both ends of the floor. He finally lived up to preseason hype and became the physical rebounding presence we all knew he could be, averaging roughly a double double in the final stretch of the regular season. Alley-oops were a guarantee when you tossed the ball anywhere near the rim, and the possibility was always there that Bam would be dunking all over you at any given moment.
As far as negatives go, his offense is still extremely raw, and we saw far too many “Pebbles” moments, even in the NCAA Tournament. There were spurts of greatness, specifically late in conference play throughout March, but inconsistency always lingered. We all know NBA teams draft on potential alone, but his limited offensive skillset could force him to slide all the way to the bottom of the first round this year. Should he return and work on his offensive game, he could easily find himself as a top ten selection next year, even in a loaded draft for big men.
When you look at the leadership impact Isaiah Briscoe made as a sophomore, the thought of Adebayo emulating that is certainly enticing. He’s been on an impressive tournament run, he’s played some of the best teams in the country. He knows the ropes, and there’s always value in that, especially if freshmen take up the majority of the starting line up as expected.
Argument for Mohamed Bamba:
Bamba is a freak athlete, capable of completely neutralizing an opponent’s production in the paint. We’ve had guys like Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, etc., and Bamba would fit right in that same mold. If the 6’11 stud isn’t blocking shots at the rim, he’s altering them. At the very least, he scares the hell out of anyone even coming in the lane, let alone attempting a shot over him.
With a 7’9 wingspan, Bamba has the ability to be an elite difference maker on both ends of the floor. He has a developing jump shot, impressive touch at the basket, and should be able to rack up all the alley-oops imaginable. This kid’s potential is through the roof, and he can be the next Wildcat selected first overall in the draft.
Though he has ridiculous length, he’s rail thin, and that can always be a cause for concern for injury reasons. Anthony Davis came in extremely thin, but stayed relatively healthy from start to finish. Nerlens Noel, another skinny kid coming in as a freshman, had his season cut short due to an awful injury. Anyone can get injured at any given moment, but it’s something to think about.
Beyond anything else, he’s also a freshman, and there is almost always a learning curve when you get to the college level. You know exactly what you’re getting out of a sophomore Adebayo. Bamba, on the other hand, still has the “unknown” factor that comes with all incoming players.
Forget it, let’s just get both and have the best frontcourt in America.
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