Draft Profile: What Will Marvin Bagley III Bring To The NBA?

Duke Athletics

The Hawks hold the rights to the #3, #19, #30 and #34 picks in the upcoming June 21 NBA Draft. At Hawks.com, we'll be talking to some of the writers and bloggers who watched some of this year's key prospects most closely. 

Today we talk to JD King (@DBRTweetz) of the Duke Basketball Report  SB Nation's site for Duke University sports, about freshman forward Marvin Bagley III:

What does Marvin Bagley III do well? 

Bagley first of all has a ton of athleticism. He’s 6-11 and is as bouncy as any big guy I’ve ever seen in person. He’s an amazing rebounder. His second jump is ridiculous. He’s also a very good passer, something he never got enough credit for at Duke. He’s got a nice hook shot and if you leave him alone he has three point range. He’s not quick on that shot yet but he can hit it. 

He also runs like a dream. And don’t underestimate his desire. He’s way ahead of most kids his age but he keeps working to get better. That’s perhaps his best attribute. 

How does his game translate to the NBA?

Personally, I think he’ll be fine. He runs like a deer, he can get his own dinner, so to speak, because he’s such tremendous rebounder. He could seriously get 14-18 a game with no assists. His strengths should outweigh any flaws he has. And everyone has some flaws to their game. 

What can he do to improve?

The first thing he needs to do is to get stronger. He got pushed around a fair amount at the end of the year and couldn’t figure out how to handle getting pounded. But that should take care of itself. If I were dealing with his conditioning, aside from the normal stuff, I’d have him swimming a lot to increase his power from top to bottom. But his trainers will know what to do with him. 

He needs a more reliable outside shot and his defense needs work. He got criticized for not blocking shots but that was kind of stupid. Any guy who jumps like that can be a shotblocker. It’s more a question of being in position. He either didn’t understand Duke’s defense or didn’t want to put effort in. Given that he’s a worker with a desire to be great, I’d bet on the former. If he were at Duke for longer he’d master defense too.  

He has a reliable jump hook but could probably vary his repertoire a bit. 

What style of play suits his game best?

A guy with his motor and hops would do well on a running team. His best bet for that is probably Sacramento if he goes that early. Putting him with De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein and a healthy Harry Giles would be a lot of fun to watch. I’m sure he’d be fine on a more deliberate team like the Celtics, but he’s made for the open court. He’s also a very good ballhandler for a 6-11 guy who went coast-to-coast fairly often at Duke. 

To which current or past NBA player would you compare him?

That’s tough. As a rebounder I’d compare him to Rodman, who also had an amazing second hop. He’s still really lean so he’s bit like a young Kevin Durant, but Durant has a better perimeter game and he’s not really skinny anymore. 

Every so often when he went up for a hook, he reminded me just a bit of young Kareem but he’s not Kareem. He’s got some of Olajuwon’s speed but he’s not a center. He’s a forward. 

Maybe a solid way to put it would be that he’s got Rodman’s rebounding and is quick off his feet like former UNC and NBA star Antawn Jamison. Jay Bilas once studied a UNC game tape and figured out that Jamison scored something like 25 points in 17 seconds. Part of that was because Ed Cota was a brilliant passer who got him the ball in precisely the right spot, but still, Jamison got up that quickly. When he got the ball in scoring position, he just went up so quickly. 

It’s not a perfect comparison but he’s a pretty unique player and those are the guys you compare people to, not the other way around. Bagley’s coach at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski, said that he had coached the best players in the NBA and that Bagley was on that level. I’m not nearly as knowledgeable but I know I’ve never seen anyone quite like him in my life.

Actually now that I think about it he reminds me a bit of the late Bison Dele aka Brian Williams, or at least a young version of Dele. Dele could do anything he wanted on the basketball court but was never in love with the game. It’s fair to say Bagley is.