Gold Net Basketball (@goldnetbasketball) catches up with Marvin Bagley III (@mb3five) after his week 7 Drew League battle against Baron Davis (@iambarondavis) and his squad New Edition this summer 17.
In August of 2017, a 6’11” forward from a small, private school in Los Angeles, California, reclassified from the recruiting class of 2018, to the class of 2017 and changed the landscape of college basketball. That player was Marvin Bagley III.
On June 21st of this year, Bagley will likely go through another change. On that night one NBA team will select in the top five and solidify him as a cornerstone of their franchise for years to come.
Fast forward to the start of next season and the 18-year-old will likely reclassify the way the league looks at positions and roles in basketball. Something he is all too used to.
Bagley is currently a freshman at Duke University in North Carolina. This season, he is averaging 21.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, one block and one steal per game while starting at power forward for head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
The freshman phenom has also been able to play some of his best basketball against elite competition. Bagley put up 34 points and 15 rebounds against the University of Texas. He followed up with 30 points and 15 rebounds against the University of Florida one game later.
He then recorded 32 points and 21 rebounds, 30 points and 11 rebounds and 30 points with 14 rebounds in conference, against Florida State, Wake Forest and the University of Virginia. Bagley has 17 double-doubles so far, this season. Good enough for second in the NCAA and a Duke freshman record.
During the summer, Bagley also competed against NBA stars at the Drew League in Los Angeles. In one game he had 32 points and 11 rebounds, against a team that had Toronto Raptors guard Demar DeRozan. In another game, he ate up Warriors backup center JaVale McGee on his way to 18 points and 20 rebounds.
Bagley, who plays the four or five, would have been labeled a “tweener” a decade ago in the NBA but now his ability to tower over smaller defenders and slash past larger ones, gives him unprecedented access to the rim and rebounds. In today’s position-less league he is better labeled as a “matchup-nightmare.” College teams can't guard him, and pro scouts are salivating at the chance to draft him.
Even without a true threat of a jumper, Bagley can get whatever shot he wants on the court. The freshman forward eats up defenders who give him a first step or dominates them with his back to the basket in the post. This season Bagley is averaging less than one made three-pointer per game while shooting just 31 percent from beyond the arc.
What he lacks in touch from the perimeter, he makes up in finishing ability at the rim. Bagley shoots over 65 percent on two-point field goals and makes over seven of them a game. While the rest of the big-men are taking their game further outside, Bagley is comfortable living in the paint.
Some scouts believe much of his success is due to Duke’s depth and their ability to trot out another high school All-American big-man next to him at all times. Most of Bagley’s time on the court is spent alongside Marques Bolden or Wendell Carter Jr., who minimize his weaknesses.
He is not a great shot-blocker, nor does he possess to anchor the defensive post as well as he orchestrates it on the offensive end. The 18-year-old also averages more turnovers than assists per game and has a lean, frail body type for an NBA big-man. While these weaknesses are well-known, they have not held him back.
Other scouts have compared his “old-school” game to recent prospects, Julius Randle and Michael Beasley. Bagley, Randle and Beasley are all left-hand dominant and put up ridiculous numbers in college. Randle starred on a John Calipari lead Kentucky team his freshman year, while Beasley averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds for Kansas State.
While both have carved out solid roles for themselves in the league, neither were able to translate their college success to the pros. That is where Bagley can separate himself. His skillset and work ethic have the potential to land him more in the conversation with Tim Duncan than Randle or Beasley.
Duncan averaged 20.8 points and 14.7 rebounds in his senior year at Wake Forest and Bagley is averaging 21.6 and 11.5. While Duncan was a better defensive player than Bagley, the Duke star’s technicality and footwork should be able to let him dominate offensively like the “Big Fundamental” did for years in San Antonio. Duncan was selected first overall in the 1997 NBA Draft.
Bagley looks like he will hear his name called very early come draft night in June. Just how early has yet to be determined, with other prospects looking equally as enticing to executives sitting in war-rooms. Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, Oklahoma’s Trae Young and the 18-year-old Slovenian, Luka Doncic, all seem like they have the potential to be generational types of talent and fit into today’s modern style of play.
Ayton stands taller, is thicker and his shooting stroke looks more promising than Bagley. Young is leading the nation in points and assists while captivating fans by reminding them of a young, Steph Curry. And Doncic is a mystery, but he is leading the Euro League in PER and has scouts are calling the best European basketball prospect they’ve ever seen.
Bagley’s draft position will likely be dictated by team needs at the top of the draft. If a team wants a traditional, seven-foot center they draft Ayton. If they need a playmaker, they draft Doncic but if a team wants the player with the most potential its Bagley. He may not go first overall, but he will not fall outside the top three.
The team Bagley goes to will depend heavily on the lottery, but here are the top three teams likely to land Bagley this summer:
(1) Sacramento Kings
The Kings have a collection of young, big-men on their roster already, but Bagley would already be the best of the bunch. Kings general manager Vlade Divac should not hesitate at taking Bagley if the team could land a top three pick. Initially they could pair him with Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere in the front-court and eventually hope to develop him alongside former Duke standout and 2017 first-round pick, Harry Giles.
Bagley would pair well with De ’Aaron Fox, pushing the ball in transition and playing in the pick and roll. The two players can both get up and down the court and the Kings should make pushing the pace a priority if they can select Bagley.
The team would struggle to defend the rim, but perhaps head coach Dave Joerger could scheme an effective strategy to allow his athletic roster to thrive as a team defensively.
(2) Orlando Magic
Magic general manager John Hammond and coach Frank Vogel might prefer Ayton here, but if the Magic are to go in another direction, Bagley would be an enticing prospect. The team would slide him in at center and play a very long and athletic lineup with Aaron Gordon and Johnathan Isaac filling out the forward positions.
The Magic might struggle to spread the floor and three-point shooting would be their number one free agency target if this was their selection, but a lineup with Bagley, Gordon and Isaac would be very fast up the floor. Each player can fill lanes and pressing teams each possession.
Defensively could be where this makes the most sense. Their starting front-court could switch all three positions effectively and cover the pick and roll differently than NBA teams currently can. If players one through five can switch off and play the dribble, the Magic could do due so much on that side of the ball.
(3) Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks look like the other team destined to land a top three pick, if there isn’t a lottery shake-up, in this loaded draft. They already have a point guard, Dennis Schroeder, and their first-round pick last year, John Collins, is shaping into a good player. What the Hawks lack is a big-time difference maker and Bagley could be that in Atlanta.
He has shown the potential in college to be the “man” in big games and the Hawks would look for him to be that player from day one. Travis Schlenk has assembled a decent roster with good role players at all positions and could go anyway on draft night. While Ayton and Doncic are compelling players Atlanta should consider, if they have the chance, they should select Bagley.
The man with the mohawk compliments the Hawks strengths better than any player in the draft. Schroeder excels with the ball in his hands and would benefit greatly from having Bagley to drop dimes to while Collins could focus on his strengths, with less offensive pressure, and be the big, wide body that Bagley needs to play with to be able to survive his first season defensively.
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Article By @Matt_Kirkland94
Video by: Gold Net Basketball (@goldnetbasketball)
Edit by: Rick Montanez (@goldnetrick)
Interviewer: Sam Briones (@goldnetsam)
Interviewee: Marvin Bagley III (@mb3five)