The NBA season is one-eighth of the way along, and there’s as much drama today as there was at the start of the season. All-Star Jimmy Butler heads back to the Eastern Conference after being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston’s melodrama seems never-ending and the Golden State Warriors are still the best team in the league. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at two former Texas big men who are on teams heading in very different directions.
Former Texas Longhorn Mo Bamba played well in the short two-game win streak the Orlando Magic had going into their home game against the Washington Wizards. Bamba was averaging 15 points, five rebounds and two blocks on 63.2 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from three. Bamba played a pivotal role in Orlando’s two wins by providing a steady defensive presence on one end and a reliable offensive threat on the other.
But Bamba’s success was short-lived. Bamba played terribly in the Monday night loss to the Wizards, posting a depressing statline of zero points, zero rebounds and two blocks in a little over 10 minutes. Bamba struggled to stay on the court due to foul trouble, and it wasn’t long before head coach Steve Clifford decided Bamba was better off staying on the bench for most of the game.
Bamba’s inability to stay out of foul trouble limited his ability to get a rhythm going. Perhaps the game against the Wizards was a fluke, but Bamba struggled against the very physical Dwight Howard and a shifty guard in John Wall. If those two were a problem, Bamba’s in for a world of hurt against Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers and the Magic meet on Wednesday evening in Orlando.
The San Antonio Spurs are playing a brand of basketball rejected by most of the league: heavy use of the mid-range and a limited three-point game. Yet with players like LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan who excel in the mid-range, it’s no surprise that the Spurs are playing to the strength of their best players.
It should be no surprise, then, Aldridge has continued to post another solid season. The All-Star power forward is averaging 18.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game on 48 percent from the field. Those numbers are nearly identical to Aldridge’s career averages, but he is shooting 5 percent worse from the field.
But the Spurs needed a little more from Aldridge in their 104-99 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Monday night. Aldridge only scored 14 points on 50 percent shooting but snatched an impressive 18 rebounds and swatted three shots away in the loss. The Kings outscored the Spurs 20-9 in fast break points. The fast pace didn’t suit the Spurs well, who are the sixth oldest team in the league. Thankfully, for the Spurs, their next game isn’t until Wednesday evening against the abysmal Phoenix Suns.