At The Barn, we’ve been diligently writing about the consensus lottery picks in the 2018 NBA draft — especially since a few of us are Grizz fans, hoping and praying to our respective divine beings that the Grizz front office doesn’t miss on this year’s likely Top 3 pick and ruin the next 5 years.
Marvin Bagley, III is a name constantly on the mock draft boards, and it’s no surprise. The freakishly athletic 6-11 big fella has been a highly touted star since he was in 9th grade. From the tender age of 12, he’s always been destined to be a lottery pick, but does he have what it takes to be the transcendent big man/franchise cornerstone that some believe? Maybe he will, maybe he won’t — if there’s one thing I know, it’s that this whole deal is one giant crapshoot. Who pans out and who doesn’t perplexes me year after year, but I digress…
Bagley’s 247 profile gives us a concise yet accurate blurb about his admittedly rare combination of skills:
Bagley is an exquisite talent. He has the physique of a young prospect and naturally will need to become much stronger, but in other areas he plays far beyond his years. He’s extremely well-coordinated, fluid, quick, explosive and reasonably polished. A southpaw, he knocks down long jump shots, buries hooks on post-ups and handles well enough to attack off the dribble in either direction.
How many players warrant the adjective “exquisite” on recruiting sites? I have no idea but have to assume very few. But, if I’m being honest, they ain’t wrong: Bagley is *Italian chef finger kiss*.
A Star is Born
Like most great athletes, Bagley comes from the sort of genetic stock that begets athletic destiny: his mom the daughter of Pogo Joe Caldwell — one of the country’s best high school basketball players in 1960 — and his dad, Marvin Bagley, Sr., a wide receiver playing football professionally in the Arena Football League for the Arizona Rattlers.
Caldwell was the second overall pick in the 1964 NBA draft. Pogo Joe was a two-time All-Star in the NBA, and after the best year of his career in 1970, when he averaged 21.1 points for the Atlanta Hawks, he skedaddled over to the ABA for more mulah. Bagley Sr., on the other hand, never quite made the big leagues, but had a star-studded college career with Arizona State. When asked about his son’s rarified skillset, Bagley Sr. aptly summarized:
We don’t want to put a label on him. A label equals a limit. We just ask him to play. You have to be able to do it all, especially at this young age.
I hate to see when guys are considered guards or forwards, and then you have big guys, especially when they’re young growing up, just because a guy is the biggest on the floor, you tell them not to dribble the ball. I hate to see that. That’s one thing I always tried to not do with Marvin.
All this to say, if you put the right ingredients in your grub, it’s going to taste delicious. Bad metaphor? Maybe, but you get the idea.
In his last season for Sierra Canyon, he averaged 24.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. The next big question was whether he could replicate his success at the next level. After
being paid off by Nike choosing to play for Coach K and Duke — who are somehow devouring John Calipari at his own blue-chip game — Bagley saddled off to Durham for the requisite one-year until he could make actual money. Hope he really enjoyed Intro to Theater 101!
Life as a Blue Devil
As a fairly skinny player with a “slight” build, folks wondered whether Bagley could hang with the other big fellas in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding:
TFW you average 21-11…
*Extremely Chris Tucker and Ice Cube voice* Dayummmmmmmm. Bagley delivered not only statistically but efficiently as well. Bagley hit 36.0% on 50 3pt attempts and has a free throw percentage of 62.1% (suggesting a non-broken shot). The young man clinched both the ACC’s award for Rookie of the Year AND ACC Player Of The Year. His meager block average is the one red flag amongst these stats (more on that later).
The biggest knock is that his Duke team lost a drag-out overtime battle to Kansas in the Elite Eight. Still, the Elite Eight is far enough in the tournament where there’s no accompanying embarrassment, and I don’t subscribe to the idea that one single-elimination tournament should define a player’s NBA trajectory. After all, college is the last hurdle before making millions — I can imagine these dudes adopting a “sooner the better” mentality.
Is He a ‘Tweener?
A tweener in basketball is a term, sometimes used negatively, for a player who is able to play two positions, but is not ideally suited to play either position exclusively, so he/she is said to be in between. Classic example: Charles Barkley, one of the NBA’s greatest rebounding power forwards at a stocky 6-6. In my book, there are two kinds of tweeners: