The Duke Blue Devils will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels tonight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the second semifinal. Much of the Tar Heels’ and the nation’s focus will be on Duke standout freshman Marvin Bagley III. The Freshman showed out in the quarterfinals on Thursday night against Notre Dame. He finished with 33 points and 17 rebounds on 15-23 from the field. He was the best player on the floor and it wasn’t close.
Bagley is a consensus lottery pick, but projecting his game at the next level is a bit of a challenge. The 6-11 forward does a lot of his work in the low and mid-post. In case you’ve been under a rock, the NBA game is slightly different than college. A power forward needs to be able to stretch the floor and while Bagley was 2-3 from deep Thursday night, his sample size isn’t big. A center in today’s NBA needs to be an elite rim protector, Bagley average one block per game and had none last night in 38 minutes of action.
He will certainly be a pro next year and has the tools to be special, but he will have to become elite in a few aspects of his game. Here are my 5 observations from his play Thursday night:
Smooth and fluid game out to the elbow
Bagley is often the tallest and most athletic guy on the floor. He has the advantage in both areas over every defender he faces in college. That won’t be the case in the NBA. Thursday night he showed his entire repertoire. He is fluid and can shoot it well in this area of the floor.
On this play, he receives an entry pass and immediately turns to face the 6-10 Notre Dame defender, Martinas Geben. Bagley could use his athleticism to go by the slower-footed Geben, but instead creates a little space and shoots the jumper.
Subpar rim and paint protector
To be fair, Duke plays zone negating some of Bagley’s size when it comes to rim and paint protection. His length helps when he’s out on the perimeter though, which he’ll have to do at the next level. During Thursday’s win against Notre Dame, there were a few instances where the Irish got penetration and Bagley was not a deterrent at the rim. Something to keep an eye on as you project him to the next level.
Dominant in the low post
Notre Dame senior Bonzie Colson is 6-6 and 224 pounds. Bagley has the height and athletic advantage, he also outweighs Colson by 1o, but Colson is pretty strong. Bagley gets position here and seals Colson on his hip and makes a quick jump hook and score. Again, it won’t be this easy at the next level. Still, he can really score with his back to the basket. The majority of his 33 were scored around the rim.
Decent handle but not always strong with the ball
Bagley has handle for his size, but he’s not Giannis or KD. If he’s going to play on the perimeter at the next level it needs to improve. If he is going to put the ball on the floor in the low post, it has to be quick and decisive like in the previous play above.
Upside and REALLY good at a lot of things
Watching him play against Notre Dame you could see what has people at the next level excited about what he could be. He is very good at a lot of aspects of the game. But for the next level, he isn’t quite elite at any one thing. He could become elite at a particular facet of his game and then you can begin talking about how he could be a game changer.
Predicting this stuff is never easy. A lot will depend on Bagley and the situation he is drafted into. He could end up in Sacramento or some other dumpster fire of a franchise and well, who knows. He could get so elite as a low post scorer that the league has to adapt to him. Don’t like doing NBA player comps, but if he becomes Chris Bosh that’s really good. Before you freak out, Bosh was an 11x all star, All NBA selection, 2x NBA champ and Olympic gold medalist. That’s a really good career.
Time will tell. For now, top two or three is a bit of a risk. At picks four through six, you have to take him if he’s available.