Nineteen-year-old Marvin Bagley III enters next week’s NBA Draft as a projected top 5 pick through the eyes of many draft scouts. Standing at 6-foot-11 and weighing 235 pounds, the Duke phenom and Phoenix, Ariz., native offers a wide range of skills for NBA front offices to look forward to. Let’s understand more about Bagley’s game with another in-depth player profile.
Outside Scoring: 14/20
When taking note of Bagley’s offensive game, one of the first things you must take into account is his willingness to extend the floor and shoot long-range shots. In his one-and-done season in Durham, NC., Bagley flashed potential shooting the ball, finishing in the 77th percentile on jumpers and in the 88th percentile on catch and shoot 3’s – 90th percentile guarded and 64th unguarded. Further, Bagley attempted 1.8 threes per game, making them at a 39.7 percent clip. His smooth stroke, plus a high release point enables him to be a long-term weapon for any team that seeks to use him as a small-ball five.
Inside Scoring: 20/20
What may be the crux of Bagley’s offensive game is his penchant for scoring in the paint. He looked like a man among boys in the interior at Duke, dominating college basketball in a way that the game hasn’t seen since Anthony Davis in 2011-12 — no big man accomplished what Bagley did in this past decade – average 21 points per game with a 61.5 True-Shooting Percentage in the same season.
On paper, it’s easy to see that Bagley is an athletic marvel. He’s at the upper-echelon of offensive greatness, even when weighted by NBA standards, and that is essential into the player that he is and what he can be at the NBA level.
Bagley is at his best around the bucket, where he ranked in the 96th percentile nationally scoring at the rim. While his compact and robust frame helps on this end of the floor, he also has a knack for creating space between his defender, as well as scoring through contact.
Here, in a November matchup with Texas, Bagley is matched up with another projected top 5 pick in Mohamed Bamba. Although Bamba trumps him in height and is even in terms of athleticism, Bagley shows off his strength by pushing the 7-footer out of the way.
While the Blue Devils featured five projected draft picks in its starting lineup; their offense ran entirely through No. 35, as he led the team in usage (26.3 percent), field goals (270) field goal attempts (440) and points (694 points). Because of this, he proved to be versatile with the ball in his hands, punishing defenses off-the-bounce and in pick-and-roll coverages (although Duke didn’t run a lot compared to most programs), using a series of spin moves, drop-steps, and left-handed mini hooks.
As smooth of a scorer that he is, Bagley is not too cerebral when it comes to passing and playmaking. More times than not, Bagley forced the action too much with the ball in his hands at Duke, often showing tunnel vision by overlooking open shooters and missing the easy pass.
In a day in age where NBA teams need their big men to pass effectively, Bagley is completely underwhelming in this department. This past season, Bagley committed almost twice as many turnovers (75) as he did assists (50). If there is any upside to Bagley’s passing ability, it’s that his 6’11” height allows him to see over the defense, especially in PnR situations like this one.
In short, Bagley likely will never be a flashy passer, but he needs to be able to make the correct reads to survive as a small-ball five in the NBA.
Bagley complements his high offensive ceiling with a motor that doesn’t stop running. No one in college basketball demonstrated a quicker second and third jump this past season than Bagley, especially on the offensive end of the floor. The freshman finished in the 87th percentile on putbacks, including rebounding 13.8 percent of Duke’s missed shots, which ranked 1st and 5th, respectively, in the ACC and NCAA.
Another reason why Bagley is adept at keeping possessions alive is his soft hands and excellent timing around the rim. This helps him attack the glass with a vengeance while also staying under control at the same time. Look here, as he powers through opposing defenders to snatch missed shot after missed shot in traffic.
The same skills that make Bagley a special talent on the offensive glass translate to the defensive end, too. Bagley averaged the third most defensive rebounds in the ACC (7.0) and registered the seventh highest Defensive Rebounding Rate (21.5%) in the conference as well in 2017-18.
In the end, rebounding converts as well as any ability between levels, and it’s hard to imagine a world where Bagley isn’t able to prove his worth on the glass at the next level.
There’s no doubt that Bagley will be a productive offensive player and rebounding machine in the NBA. His size, quickness, and jumping ability all make that possible. However, there are doubts about his staying power as a defender.
For starters, his physical tools, which helps him as an offensive threat, severely diminishes his value on defense. Although his 6-foot-11 height is promising, his inferior 7-foot-0.5 wingspan is four inches shorter than the next top big’s in this year’s draft class, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson, at 7’5”. Simply put, his measurables don’t line up for him to even be a serviceable rim-protector.
The numbers back that up. His collegiate block rate, when compared to a few other elite big men that have been drafted in recent years, is absurd. It doesn’t even compare with players like Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and fellow Blue Devil Jahlil Okafor, who have proven to be defensive liabilities in the NBA.
Now, that’s not to say Bagley will be a woeful defender in the NBA. Because athletically, he has the tools to defend on the perimeter and in space. He is very light on his feet for his size and moves well laterally. In addition, he has potential to be a high-level switch player because of athleticism. Bagley showed the ability to switch onto smaller guards while at Duke. Although it’s a small sample size, Bagley forced opposing players to shoot 5/20 from the field in switch situations, per Draft Express.
In an era where fours in the NBA are just bigger wings. Where P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza squared off with Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in one conference final, and where LeBron James battled with Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown at the four in the other, this assures that Bagley can at least hold it down against players at or below his height.
Free Throw Shooting: 14/20
Bagley could have shot much better than 62.7 percent at the charity stripe; however, he did get to the line nearly seven times per game, which is about the NBA average.
There’s a lot to like about Bagley. He is an athletic freak who is exceptional at picking his spots, whether that’d overpowering people in the paint or showing off his range as a shooter. All the tools are there for him to excel as a scorer and rebounder at the next level. However, he will have to power past his limitations on the defensive end the best he can, as that’s what holds him back from becoming a great player to possibly an elite one.
Outside Scoring: 14/20
Interior Scoring: 20/20
Free Throw Shooting: 14/20