2018 Pick Number 5– Marvin Bagley III
Height – 6’11″″
Weight – 234lbs
Age – 19yrs
Wingspan – 7’0″
Position – Power Forward
Strengths – Athleticism, rebounding, perimeter shooting
Weaknesses – Ambiguous NBA role
NBA comp – Damontas Sabonis/Kevin Love
The discussion around Marvin Bagley in the context of how his game translates to the NBA is one of the more intriguing questions of this post season. Bagley absolutely destroyed college basketball in his lone season at Duke. His athleticism, size and polish were immediately impactful at Duke. Based solely mixtape of his highlights and statistics many people would rank Bagley first overall. So why is he ranked 5th in our mock draft? Well it comes down to a simple question, what is he in the NBA? What is his role? What exactly does he do at an elite NBA level?
Marvin may be the safest bet for an NBA team when it comes to simply adding talent but his combination of relatively short wingspan, dubious shooting numbers and really poor rim protection make him hard to envision as a player who fulfills a key role for a winning NBA team.
Why it makes sense for Dallas
The Mavericks are preparing for the post Dirk era. They had a tremendous amount of sustained success building around a 7 footer who did not protect the rim. The Mavs now are focusing on building around Dennis Smith Jr. and it is not hard to envision an offensive attack where DSJ is getting Iverson assists to Bagley on put back dunks. That combo could be very effective with Harrison Barnes as a 3 and D pillar.
Bagley has the ability to stress an opposing team in a variety of ways. His speed up the floor and finishing ability make him a real weapon for a run and gun offense. In a half court setting he has real potential as a roll man and lob catcher in a pick and roll. Shooting 39.7% from three at Duke shows some reason for optimism that he has the potential to be a viable pick and pop threat as well and that combination could unlock some super valuable potential with Dennis Smith Jr.
A note on caution however, Bagley shot just 62.7% from the free throw line, so his overall shooting potential is somewhat uncertain. His form is workable, and I would not view it as a major area of concern.
Post offense, back to the basket moves are somewhat rudimentary and are the primary offensive skillset keeping Bagley from being considered a Center in the NBA.
Defense is where the concerns really manifest with Bagley. His short wingspan was manifestly problematic in the area that matters most for an NBA big man.When you look at modern NBA big men the first thing they need to be able to do is protect the rim. In a pace and space era, teams are hyper focused on taking layup/dunks and shooting threes. As a result the classic definition of the Power Forward has morphed into much more of a stretch 4 mold. Bagley could very well have a Kevin Love type career if his shooting makes progress and his defensive awareness improves to the point where he can be in the right spot to deter easy layups.
But there is no escaping the fact that he had just a 2.6% block rating at Duke. When you compare this to his peers among 2018 big men prospects he falls woefully short. Jaren Jackson Jr. , who SFO projects as being picked ahead of Bagley posted a 14% block rate, or 4 times more favorable.
Defining Marvin Bagley’s NBA role will be key in determining how high he should be selected. If you think of him as a Center then you have to be willing to live with teams attacking the rim and hope that he can use positioning and anticipation to get in the way similar to a Dario Saric. If you view him as a power forward you have to believe that his jumpshot and perimeter game will look more like the 39% three pointer rather than the 62% Free Throw shooter. As a Stretch 4 you also have to commit to putting a back line shot blocker such as a Clint Capela behind him. Bagley could very well develop into a 20/10 player in the NBA but he could also be the type of player who looks great in highlights playing on a sub .500 team.
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