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Atlanta Hawks add ‘potential unicorn’ with Mo Bamba in recent NBA Mock Draft

It doesn’t feel likely but...

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Texas John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

As of late May, it would be a bit of a surprise if the Atlanta Hawks did not select Duke’s Marvin Bagley, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson or Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. However, a recent mock draft foresees another potential scenario and it is certainly an interesting one.

Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports projects Texas big man Mo Bamba to the Hawks at No. 3 and, in doing so, places the potentially devastating shot blocker ahead of both Bagley III and Jackson Jr.

Bamba would join John Collins in giving the Hawks a young frontcourt with sky-high potential. Bamba has some potential unicorn in him as well – he can put the ball on the floor, has a nice shooting stroke and shot a promising 68.1 percent from the free-throw line – but the incredibly long 7-footer will make his money as a Rudy Gobert-like defensive force. Bamba ranked second in college basketball in blocked shots as a freshman. His 7-foot-10 wingspan at the combine set an NBA combine record.

At first glance, this seems rather aggressive, even if the aforementioned pairing of Collins and Bamba would, in fact, have “sky-high potential.” Still, Forgrave brings word that Bamba has upward mobility in the draft, at least according to executives he has interacted with in recent days.

One elite player who is moving upward: Texas big man Mohamed Bamba. Executives told me the stunningly mature Bamba aced the interviews; when plenty of players were dragging from one interview to the next in sweatpants and a lack of preparation, Bamba wore a suit and came prepared to answer specific questions about each team. Nobody doubts Bamba’s ceiling, which might be the highest in this draft. Nobody doubts his brain. The biggest question is whether he can bulk up and be able to hang on the block with NBA veteran big men.

Obviously, it is important to remember that we are in the midst of NBA Draft silly season, with information flying around concerning every player mentioned in this post. Still, Forgrave isn’t the only evaluator potentially centering on Bamba as an underrated player in this class and this is a group of top prospects that could come to personal preference from individuals in front offices across the league.

All indications are that Bamba isn’t an overly likely candidate at No. 3 overall but, with Travis Schlenk sharing publicly that he has been evaluating eight players with an eye toward Atlanta’s lottery pick, the 20-year-old certainly may be in consideration.

Stay tuned.