By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, AFRO Sports Desk
The 2018 NBA Draft is recorded and in the books. The incoming rookie class is hailed as a talented group with several promising players that could emerge on the next level. Big men dominated early in the draft but some important guards went to a few important teams, putting them in position to ring up numbers as pros. The future is bright for this class but which player has the brightest outlook? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO SportsDesk debates.
In this Jan. 22, 2018, file photo, Texas forward Mohamed Bamba (4) scores as Iowa State guard Nick Weiler-Babb (1) and forward Solomon Young (33) look on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Riley: New center Mohamed Bamba will emerge in the next three seasons as the best player from this class. A 7-foot-10 wingspan on a 7-foot-1 power forward just spells danger for opposing offenses. Even if Bamba does absolutely nothing on offense, he’s a distracting, shot-blocking presence on defense. But that’s the thing, he’s nice. His range extends out to the three-point line and he can take forwards off the dribble. The best is yet to come for this kid. I’ll go on record now and predict Bamba will have a Shaquille O’Neal-like effect on the Orlando Magic and reinvent the franchise. The Magic seem to always draft cornerstone big men and they just found another one. O’Neal’s giant-like size and mobility made him a unicorn back in 1993. Bamba’s freakishly long 7-foot-10 wingspread makeshim the new giant in the league.
Green: Size and physicality aside, it’s the sweet-shooting guards that are winning titles nowadays and if the prototype is Steph Curry, then clone Trae Young should be the favorite to become the best of this class. He’ll walk in as Atlanta’s new point guard and have the ball and the franchise handed to him right away. The Curry comparisons are legit and the Big 12 Freshman of the Year will have every opportunity to pile up stats and push his progress. The opportunity alone will put him in the forefront to develop faster than most rookies; and if he can bring the college magic that he displayed early in his college career to the NBA’s Magic, then it’s an easy choice.
Riley: Young wore out down the stretch due to his size and the college season is less than half of a full NBA campaign. Bamba brings an easy floor to fall back on even if he never develops his offensive game or IQ. He’ll walk into the Magic locker room and instantly be their best defensive big. His reach gives him an advantage over everyone in the league and his foot speed and athleticism will keep him on the court at all times. There’s no downside with Bamba. If Young, however, can’t get his offense clicking in the NBA then what?
Green: Young’s a deadeye shooter and that normally translates to the NBA. He’s also a floor general with great vision and a natural feel for game flow and possessions. He ran out of gas carrying a whole team by himself but he’ll have a little more help in the NBA. He’s a premier talent penciled in at a position that will keep his hands on the ball. Bamba should be great as well but he’ll be dependent on a slouchy set of guards in Orlando to get him the ball. Defensively, he should be efficient and I get the baseline floor for Bamba but Young has the tools to be the next face of the league. The average-person-star is the rage of sports. Fans relate better when you look like them in size and stature. Young’s superstar potential both on the court and off naturally makes him the obvious candidate for the next megastar from this draft class.