Magic rookie Mo Bamba to miss “significant” time with left leg stress fracture

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Mo Bamba has a world of potential but is not yet ready for big minutes at the center spot in the NBA (even if he says he wants that role). This season has been a learning experience — just under 17 minutes a night off the bench behind All-Star Nikola Vucevic in Orlando, averaging 6.2 points and 5 rebounds a game, showing flashes of the defensive potential that got him drafted No. 6 last June.

That learning process is going to be put on hold for a while he recovers from a stress fracture, the team announced Tuesday.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added details.

This may change the Magic’s plans at the trade deadline. There is interest from teams in Vucevic and there is a school of thought Orlando should trade the free agent to be, get some picks/young players back, and throw Bamba into the fire and let him learn. Now there is no Bamba.

Bamba had just told NBC’s Dan Feldman he wanted that larger role.

“The way everything was kind of put in place was kind of perfect for me down here,” Bamba said. “Just have got to earn it.”

He may have to do that next season.

Bamba is taking 43 percent of his shots at the rim and hitting an impressive 74 percent of them (top 10 percentile among centers, using Cleaning the Glass stats, so no garbage time numbers included). He is taking 29 percent of his shot attempts from three, and hitting 30 percent on those. If he keeps working on that shot, Bamba can be a real pick-and-pop threat as well as a guy who gets buckets inside.

To earn those minutes he wants, Bamba needs to get stronger, get a better feel on defense, and become a little smoother on the offensive end. Which reads like the to-do list for most rookies. It will be interesting to see what direction the Magic go this summer, do they turn the frontcourt over to Bamba and Jonathan Isaac, or do they bring in veterans so the learning curve remains slower paced?

Either way, Bamba isn’t going to get a lot more game time this season to work on his skills, it appears.