In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 34 picks.
Today’s scouting report centers on Duke big man Marvin Bagley.
Fresh off a new (reported) shoe deal with Puma, Marvin Bagley III is ready to make his splash at the next level. The 19-year-old big man is one of the most highly touted prospects in the 2018 NBA Draft due to the enormous array of tools he displayed at Duke this season.
Bagley is so sought after that many evaluators believe he is the most NBA-ready player in the draft, exceeding the likes of DeAndre Ayton and Luka Doncic, who are both set to go within the top five picks of the draft. With that as the backdrop, let’s take a deeper look at what makes Bagley so special.
Obviously, the biggest thing that stands out about Marvin Bagley is his scoring proficiency. Last season, as a freshman at Duke, he posted 21 points per game on 61 percent shooting and nearly 40 percent shooting from three point range. His effective field goal percentage is off the charts at 64 percent and his offensive box plus minus is the highest in the draft at 7.7.
Bagley also offers a ton of athleticism and, as a result, is a naturally great rebounder. He averaged 11 per game at Duke last season with offensive rebounds being an especially good part of his game. His motor is clearly displayed under the rim and his ability to jump paired with his good size gives him an instant advantage in the paint on both ends of the floor with rebounding.
Three point shooting is not something you expect to call a strength for a big man standing 6’11 and weighing in at 220, yet here we are. Bagley attempted nearly two threes per game under head coach Mike Krzyzewski last season and nearly shot 40 percent from distance, as mentioned before. He displays the makings of a polished jumper and will fit right in with the new trend of stretch fives in the NBA.
One of Bagley’s few weaknesses is his lack of wingspan which barely measured in at 7 feet during his combine. 6’11 big men with 7-foot wingspans usually aren’t too highly thought of, but even with his disadvantage in length, Bagley is a force thanks to his incredible athleticism and smoothness in his game.
As a result of his lack of wingspan, Bagley does sometimes have a difficult time against bigger centers in the post trying to block shots but made a visible attempt last season to learn how to strip the ball in the post to combat centers who may try to back him down. Bagley also does not foul much and will most likely be encouraged at the next level to play more aggressively which may end up helping his defensive numbers.
Finally, Bagley has a strange problem with hitting his free throws. Although he knocks down three-pointers with a beautiful stroke and can hit the mid-range shots with consistency, Bagley only shot 63 percent from the line last season on more than six attempts per game. Surely an NBA shooting coach can remedy some of those woes, but it is still concerning that Bagley’s free throws are inconsistent with the rest of his shooting.
Overall, Bagley has a very real chance to end up being the best player to come out of this draft. He has the potential to become the prototypical NBA center in the modern game and will slot in nicely with any team at the top of the draft. Bagley does not have many real weaknesses, outside of rim protection and overall defensive impact, that would be a long term concern and is strictly upside with little risk involved.
However, if you want to get your hands on him as a team you had better do it quick because I cannot fathom Bagley falling past the No. 5 pick and even going that late would be a mild surprise. He is a definite target for the Hawks with their No. 3 pick and would fit well next to John Collins to form a most flexible and versatile frontcourt for a very long time.