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Orlando Magic

Bigger, stronger, better: Can Mo Bamba finally crack the Orlando Magic rotation?

After going sixth overall in the loaded 2018 NBA Draft, Mo Bamba has been somewhat forgotten.

A part of that has to do with a lacklustre rookie season that was marred by injuries. Some of it has to do with the crowded frontcourt the Magic have.

But make no mistake about it, Mo Bamba will be a player in this league for a long time and if you haven't been paying attention, it's time to get familiar.

Heading into the restart, Bamba is averaging 13.8 points, 12.4 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per 36 minutes over 60 games. But it's his play since the All-Star break that should have Magic fans even more excited.

In 10 games before the pause of the NBA season, Bamba was averaging 17.6 points, 14.9 rebounds, 3.9 blocks per 36 minutes. And if that production doesn't excite you enough, he was knocking down the three at a high clip too. Bamba went from shooting 33.7 percent from long range in his first 50 games to 44.4 percent from 3-point range in his last 10 outings.

It's an extremely positive sign to see as Bamba continues to figure out how to contribute on the offensive end.

The break saw Bamba now famously add 20-plus pounds of muscle on his 7-foot frame, which now should allow him to bang a little bit more down low with the other bigs in the league.

All things considered, it would lead you to think Magic head coach Steve Clifford would be forced into giving the sophomore a bit more time on the court - except that hasn't happened this season. Of the 60 games Bamba has played in this season, he's only played more than 20 minutes in a game four times.

Last Wednesday when the Magic took to the court for their first scrimmage game against the LA Clippers, Bamba sat out the entire first half and only played six minutes of the second half. He shared his frustrations post-game.

"It's very frustrating," Bamba said last Friday, "but at the same time I know we've got to be patient and do things the right way."

He had to be patient again on Saturday against the Lakers, as he sat the entire first half before getting his first action in the second half. In just eight minutes, however, Bamba made another push for a bigger role as he finished with nine points and six rebounds while shooting 66.7 percent from the field.

It could be frustrating watching Bamba attempt to break through only to be criminally stuck on the bench.

With talented frontcourt mates like Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Wes Iwundu and Jonathan Isaac when healthy, some might say the Magic have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. That assessment would be wrong, as Orlando's roster is without question the most redundant in the league, giving Clifford more questions about who to play on a nightly basis then answers.

But Magic fans and Bamba alike need to be patient, his time will come and he'll be a good player in the league for a long time.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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