Observing Mohamed Bamba, Moritz Wagner, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman

December 13, 2017

By Alan Lu

I decided to watch another Mohamed Bamba game, as he and Texas took on the Michigan Wolverines.  Andrew Jones sat out as he was injured so the Longhorns were a bit undermanned, and Michigan ended up getting the win on the road.  Michigan led for most of the way, Texas made it competitive, but ultimately the Wolverines pulled away to get the win.  Here are my thoughts on how Bamba played, as well as how various other prospects fared on this day.

Texas’ 7-0 freshman center, Mohamed Bamba had a decent showing in his team’s loss.  Even though he was inconsistent as a scorer against Michigan, Bamba was able to make a three, and he rebounded and defended well, as he really excelled as a shot blocker to protect the paint for his team.  Bamba played very good defense in this game.  He really excelled as a shot blocker, as he would swat shots ferociously to prevent opponents from scoring on put backs, and he also would block shots to keep them from scoring on cuts or drives.  Bamba has a tremendously long wingspan, and he excelled at staying in front of drives, as he would contest shots to force a wealth of misses.  But sometimes, he would not close out on three-point shooters in time, as he ended up allowing them to score on corner threes.

He also rebounded the ball very well.  He would leap up to haul in numerous defensive boards, and Bamba was very active at crashing the defensive glass to garner rebounds for his team.  Bamba also showed off a solid ability to finish plays around the basket.  He caught a lob pass once, as he was able to throw down an emphatic alley-oop dunk to get the score.  Also, he was able to throw down a thunderous jam off of a cut.  Bamba also is effective as a roll man when his teammates look for him, as he managed to draw free throws on one play when they did find him in stride.  However, he can occasionally miss shots around the basket in traffic, as he once missed a put back after getting an offensive board.

Also, he showed an adequate ability to shoot the basketball.  Bamba managed to make a three-point shot in the corner, and even though he missed two other attempts from long-distance, it is encouraging sign that he made a three in this game, as his ability to knock down jumpers may improve his chances for him to develop into being an effective shooter at the next level.  However, Bamba had trouble scoring consistently in the post.  He did use a quick drop step move to score down low, and he also managed to draw a non-shooting foul another time, but he had one shot stuffed when he tried to post up, and he also missed on a jump hook.

In this game, Mohamed Bamba showed strong defensive skills as usual, and he is an elite shot blocker that could develop into being a top of the line rim protector in the NBA.  His offensive skills are nowhere along the lines of some of the other big men prospects in his draft range such as Bagley or Ayton, but Bamba can score on the move, off of hustle plays, and he has shown a budding jump shot.  He may be more of a Rudy Gobert-type as he may project into being a defensive ace, and he could be a likely top 5 pick for the 2018 NBA Draft.

Michigan’s 6-10 junior big man, Moritz Wagner had a fairly good game in his team’s win over Texas.  He started slowly, ended up getting injured late in the game as he rolled an ankle on a drive to the hoop on the same play that he was later called for traveling, but he played really well in the middle portion, as he showed a diverse offensive game, as he can score the basketball in many different ways, and he also defended well when he was on the floor.

Wagner is a good shooter that can space the floor for his team.  He excels at knocking down open spot-up threes off the catch, and he can especially make them when gets the ball in the corner.  He does a good job of taking advantage of defenders that give him too much space to shoot the basketball, as he can really stretch the defenses with his shooting skills.  Plus, he is a skilled low post scorer that possesses very good footwork and shooting touch on the block.  On one play, he went towards the basket, and he used a pivot and a spin move prior to scoring on a jump hook.

He also is adept at drawing fouls when driving to the hoop.  On one play, he used a behind the back dribble move after driving in from the high post, and he drew a foul that time.  Also, Wagner managed to use a pump fake, as he was able to get free throws on another drive.  In addition, Wagner did a good job of scoring on cuts to the hoop.  He did have his shot blocked once, but Wagner excelled at picking and choosing when to dive to the rim to get the ball around the basket.

However, he did commit a few turnovers.  Wagner was called for committing an offensive foul at the game’s onset after trying to post up, as that led to an early benching, as he sat for quite awhile in the first half.  He also was called for traveling on a drive, but that may have been a result of stepping on an opponent’s foot as he ended up rolling his ankle, causing him to miss the remainder of the game.  In this game, Wagner did not grab many rebounds, though he did come away with several defensive boards, and he also tapped a ball out to help his team get an offensive rebound once.

He also defended well in this contest.  Wagner managed to rip a ball away from an opponent when defending the post to get a steal, and he also can heap on loose balls to help his team get more of them.  Also, he managed to draw a charge due to being in good position to force an opponent to commit an offensive foul.  Overall, Moritz Wagner had a solid showing in his team’s win over Texas.  He shot the ball well, showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also played good defense.  With his skill set, he could end up being a good value pick for an NBA team in the late first round range of the upcoming draft.

Michigan’s 6-4 senior guard, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman played really well, as he helped lead his team to a victory over Texas.  He excelled on both ends of the floor, and he was able to put up a double-double, as he scored 17 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in his team’s win.  Abdur-Rahkman did a good job of knocking down jumpers to space the floor for his team.  He was able to knock down open threes off the catch, and he even made a bank three-pointer from well beyond the arc.  He did have trouble knocking down mid-range jumpers, but he generally excelled as a shooter in this game.

He also did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  Abdur-Rahkman was able to score on a thunderous dunk off of a cut.  He did have his shot blocked on a put back attempt, but he generally did a good job of getting scores on the move.  He also showed an adequate ability to garner scores off the dribble.  Abdur-Rahkman showed a good ability to score on floaters, and he was able to use a quick spin move prior to doing so in traffic once, but sometimes, he can miss shots wildly, as he may not always play under control.  He did not seem to be too noticeable as a playmaker, but he did travel on a drive once to commit a turnover.

Also, Abdur-Rahkman did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball.  He was very active at crashing the glass, and he is an athletic combo guard that possesses a great motor, as he would frequently leap up to get tough boards in traffic on both sides of the ball.  Plus, he also defended well.  Abdur-Rahkman managed to block a shot to prevent an opponent from scoring on a drive in transition as he displayed solid athleticism and timing to do so.  He also jumped a pass to almost get a steal, but he ended up stepping out of bounds.  He also contested a three to force a miss, and in this game, he excelled as both an on-ball defender and as a help defender.

In general, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman played really well, as he may have had his best game of the season so far.  He has not shot the ball quite as well this year though, but he had a really strong showing against Texas, and he may be an interesting prospect that could end up being a good addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster.

Other Notes:

Michigan’s 6-6 sophomore swingman, Charles Matthews put forth a decent performance in his team’s win over Texas.  He had a slow start, but he played better as the game wore on, and he ended up scoring 12 points and collecting 8 rebounds on this day.  Matthews showed an adequate ability to knock down jumpers.  He can make spot-up threes and mid-range jumpers, as he has a fairly quick release, and he can make them when he is given the space to shoot the basketball.  He also managed to draw three free throws on a pull-up three once.

He struggled more to score on drives to the hoop, but he did a better job of doing so when Bamba wasn’t in the game.  Matthews had trouble scoring in traffic when an elite shot blocker was back there, but he can score on aggressive drives when his shots aren’t as tightly contested, but he did have a tendency to struggle to score in traffic, as he had a couple of his shots blocked around the basket.  He displayed decent playmaking skills.  Matthews was able to get one assist by kicking the ball out to a shooter off of a drive.  But he also committed a turnover due to throwing a bad pass that ended up getting intercepted.

Matthews did a very good job of rebounding the basketball, as he would leap up to haul in tough boards on both ends of the floor.  He also exhibited adequate defensive skills.  Matthews did a good job of contesting threes to force misses.  However, he also showed a tendency to commit reach-in fouls on that end of the floor.

Charles Matthews had an up and down game, but he played well in the second half to help get his team the win, and he made plays when they counted the most.  He is an athletic swingman that has diverse scoring skills, and he is also rebounds the ball well for a player his size.  With his skill set, he could end up being a potential second round pick whenever he elects to enter the NBA draft.

Michigan’s 6-8 senior forward, Duncan Robinson shot the ball very well, as he excelled as a scorer in the limited number of shots he took against Texas.  He was able to make a quick pull-up three in transition, and he also drew three free throws after attempting a three-point shot once.  Plus, Robinson was able to score on a baseline drive.

He looked to be about average as a playmaker.  He used a pump fake move prior to driving to the hoop, and he managed to kick it out to a shooter to set up a scoring chance.  However, he also lost the ball once when handling the ball, as he was being too fancy when looking to make a move to the hoop off the dribble.  Also, he did a decent job of rebounding the basketball, as he would leap up to get several defensive boards when he was on the floor.

He did struggle defensively though, as he can be late in his rotations, and he also was beat off the dribble once.  He showed a tendency to commit fouls, as he had trouble keeping up with quicker players.  Overall, Duncan Robinson is a smart, skilled player that shoots the ball well.  His average at best athletic gifts for a player his size may limit his upside, but his skill set could enable him to end up on an NBA summer league roster as he could compete to be in a shooting specialist role at the next level.

Texas’ 6-9 junior forward, Dylan Osetkowski quietly had a good game, as he excelled as a scorer on aggressive drives to the hoop, and he also did a good job of knocking down open spot-up threes off the catch.  He also is an agile player that showed some low post moves as he was able to score once on a powerful spin move from the block.  He did commit a few turnovers, but generally Osetkowski showed a solid ability to shoot and score the basketball, and he is an unselfish player that generally passes the ball well from the post.  He played quite well in his team’s loss on this day, and he could be a prospect to watch in 2019.

Texas’ 6-4 junior guard, Kerwin Roach II had an uneven performance in his team’s loss to Michigan.  He excelled as a scorer on strong drives to the basket in both the half court and in transition, but he struggled to consistently excel as a shooter or facilitator, and he did end up committing turnovers due to recklessness.

He did play adequate defense, as he was able to jump a pass to get a steal, but he would occasionally show lapses, which would lead him to commit fouls or allow scores.  This wasn’t Roach’s best game, but he is an athletic combo guard whose skill set could make him a player to keep an eye on next year.

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