Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba hosted a block party on Sunday.
Ever since Dwight Howard left, the Orlando Magic have been trying to find a suitable replacement down low to resurrect their defense from the ashes. Nikola Vucevic isn’t a defensive presence, and the acquisitions of Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo backfired.
The Magic may have finally solved these issues, though, with the selections of Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba in the previous two drafts. Isaac and Bamba are long and lanky shot-blocking extraordinaires who could be a terror for opposing players driving to the rim. Isaac blocked two shots per 36 minutes in a rookie season that was marred by injury, while Bamba swatted away nearly four shots a game in his lone season at Texas.
The frontcourt duo showed off these skills during Orlando’s dominant 86-56 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies at the Las Vegas Summer League on Sunday. The two even tag-teamed a block of No. 4 overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr.:
Isaac racked up five blocks for the game and helped hold Jackson to a miserable 1-of-9 shooting performance:
Bamba has blocked only one shot in each of the Magic’s first two games in Vegas, but get used to seeing these guys rejecting opponents with impunity. If they can develop quickly, Orlando should be able to turn around a defense that hasn’t ranked in the top half of the league in defensive efficiency since Howard’s departure.
Of course, the Magic will also need to fix their offensive woes, and that could prove to be a bit more difficult. Aaron Gordon will have to pick up the slack in the frontcourt given how raw Isaac and Bamba are, and it would certainly help if Orlando could find a quality point guard to get those big guys the ball in optimal situations. The newly acquired Jerian Grant isn’t the answer there.
With a potentially improved defense paired with an offense that could be anemic, be prepared for plenty of low-scoring games in Orlando.