Marvin Bagley is a freak athlete who pops off the screen when you watch him. He’s incredibly raw but still averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds per game at Duke, when he should have still been in high school.
I’ve watched a lot of Duke basketball this year which means I’ve seen a lot of Bagley. Every time I watch him I can’t help but be amazed by something he does, but he remained difficult to project to the next level. I attribute this to his rawness and youth but when you consider his natural gifts, he’s hard to pass on.
Weight: 235 lbs
Strengths – Rebounding
I want to start with Marvin’s most easily translatable skill and that is his rebounding. I maintain that rebounding is something that is safe to project from one level to the next and Marvin is a monster on the offensive glass. With the likelihood that he is going to a bad team, that’s going to mean a lot of missed shots by teammates and I’d expect Marvin to thrive on day one. I’m ready to bank on him easily averaging double-digit rebounds. His defensive rebounding numbers aren’t as great but that could likely be attributed to his being on the perimeter a lot and Wendell Carter being in the middle. He’s not great at moving people when boxing out but he chases down rebounds and grabs them well outside of his space.
Strengths – Scoring
Because he is a glass cleaner, Marvin is going to get himself a lot of easy baskets. Between putbacks and lob catching he should also easily get to 12 points a game on day one. From there, we can also add his potential as a stretch 4. Most people like to use free throw shooting to decide if a player’s shooting will translate and that’s where Marvin is an enigma. He shot just 62% from the line but then shot almost 40% from 3 (taking 2 per game). Free throws, in my eyes, are more about concentration and I think that he can quickly improve that number. His form on his jumper looks good and, with some work, should become a reliable part of his game. If he can knock down a jumper consistently he’s going to be a difficult guard because he can also put the ball on the floor. He is strong on straight-line drives and will also put the ball down to get out of a double-team.
Opportunities for growth – Offensive polish
After mentioning scoring as a strength, I also want to mention that he can get better here. While he is rarely completely out of control, Marvin can still tighten up his game on the offensive end. On a lot of his interior moves, Marvin looks like a baby giraffe flailing at the hoop. On top of this he is completely left-hand dominant which NBA teams will look to take away from him. All of this, as mentioned, can be attributed to his youth and I have to believe an NBA training staff will work with him on these things day one.
Opportunities for growth – Defensive instincts
The biggest gripe you will hear from people is that Marvin doesn’t play defense. I too am guilty of accepting this narrative but I’m not sure how fair it is when Duke mostly played zone. He is fairly comfortable defending on the perimeter which is important with the amount of switching that takes place in the NBA today. As far as interior defense, he does not have the rim protector instincts that I’d love to see from a guy with his athleticism but does have the physical profile to at least bother guys inside. By no means would I expect him to be a swinging gate but I’d still want a more defensive minded big to play with him.
We touched on his athleticism but another part of his game that is going to make him dangerous is his ability to get out in the open floor. The combination of his ability to run and his great hands means he’s going to get a lot of easy baskets in transition as well. If he ever puts together a polished offensive game he’s going to be a mega-star. If he doesn’t he’s still going to be really good for a long time.
Despite his defensive flaws, Bagley would be a great fit with the Mavs. Though he and Ayton don’t share a ton of similarities in the game, they would essentially have a very similar affect on the team. You’d play him at the 4 and protect him with a defensive minded center. We also, again, have had trouble on the glass for a long time and Marvin would be an instant fix in this area.
Where should he go?
Again, like Ayton, I don’t think there’s a bad fit for him. Every team can use an athletic big man so he could go anywhere in the draft. The results of the lottery will be big for him as far as deciding where he goes. Ayton is expected to be the first 4 off the board but Bagley and Jackson have been fighting for position as the potential 3rd pick behind Ayton and Doncic for most people.