Marvin Bagley, a 6-foot-11 man-child who dominated the high school level and reclassified last night – meaning he’ll enter Duke this month – is projected to be a dominant college basketball.
More important for hoop-heads: Bagley is almost certainly a 1-and-done player, and after he averages 17-10 with the Blue Devils next season, he’ll enter the NBA Draft.
The 2018 NBA draft doesn’t appear to have as many future superstar players as the 2017 Draft might have had – their rookie seasons haven’t started, but Markelle Fultz, De'Aaron Fox, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum and Dennis Smith look like franchise building blocks – but Bagley looks to be one. At first glance, he looks like a young Kevin Garnett – a long, skilled, athlete who can wreck havoc around the rim.
The problem of course, is that the NBA has changed rapidly. Within the last four years, the league has pivoted away from post players, and shifted to a focus on wings and guard play.
Two other players at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft fit perfectly into that trend: Michael Porter (Missouri) and Luka Doncic (Slovenia). Above average ball-handlers on the wing who are dominant 1-on-1, can reliably make 3-pointers and defend multiple positions.
Bagley added 3-point touch to his game on the AAU circuit this year, but it’s not clear yet if Duke will primarily use him on the interior or let him float to the perimeter and attempt four three-pointers a game like Tatum did last year.
It’s still very, very early, but 11 months from now, I still believe the Top 3 will be:
- Bagley Jr.
The top of the draft is big man heavy, but look no further than the Finals, where Tristan Thompson was rendered unplayable because he couldn’t defend guards or wings, and couldn’t space the floor with 3-pointers.