Another day, another trade rumor surrounding the Atlanta Hawks and a center. There are no secrets about what the Hawks feel their most significant need is, and it has been quite evident on the court in every game they have played. Atlanta seeks a seven-foot center who can defend around the hoop, and there is virtually no way the need goes unaddressed heading into the 2020-21 season. If no move is made by February 7th, one will be this summer.
The most recent name of interest for the Hawks is young Orlando Magic big man Mo Bamba, per Brandon Robinson:
The previous names that the Hawks have reportedly shown interest in include Andre Drummond, Jakob Poeltl, Clint Capela, Steven Adams, and Dewayne Dedmon. One thing that Bamba has in common with all these players? He is a seven-footer. The Hawks are looking to add some serious size at the center position, and in turn, improve the team’s defense.
What does set Bamba apart is that the other names listed are ready to step into this role instantly, while Bamba is still a project. One would assume he will be a starting-caliber player down the road, but the Hawks may be looking for an instant fix for their most substantial deficiency. If not, the former Texas big man has a ton of upside and surely meets the window of this young team, but he hasn’t lived up to the expectations of a top draft pick. He was the sixth overall pick in 2018 and is still just averaging around 15 minutes per game despite playing efficient basketball. His minutes are in part limited due to the presence of Nikola Vucevic in Orlando, suggesting he could probably benefit from a change of scenery and increased playing time.
Simply put, Bamba is still super raw. His size makes him very promising in the long-term as a defender, but his offensive game needs severe polishing, even if he has proven to be a capable outside shooter. It seems as if he is still catching up from missing playing time due to injury as a rookie, and adding additional weight will be a necessity.
It is a strong possibility that the Hawks are just as worried about the long-term at the position as much as the short-term given the current personnel. Bamba will be an interesting name to monitor until they find their next center. The only catch is they may have to give up more assets for a guy who is a risk rather than a veteran who can improve their defense immediately. Regardless, at the right price, Bamba would make for an intriguing experiment on a young Hawks team. The chances are that Travis Schlenk is simply leaving no stone unturned in his search for a big man.