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Liberty Ballers Community Big Board: #5

Where will the former Duke forward fall on the Tatum-to-Okafor spectrum?

Duke v Kansas Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Twice ranked as the #1 high school recruit in the country, Marvin Bagley III ranks 4th on our Community Big Board, winning a two-horse race with Michael Porter Jr for the honor. The 6’11” Duke forward averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds as a freshman, sporting a 61.4%/39.7%/62.7% shooting line.

As lofty as those numbers appear, they could have been even greater with a more committed effort from the Duke guards to consistently get him the rock. I still remember Bagley only getting 9 shots from the field in Duke’s Elite 8 loss to Kansas, as I screamed for the Blue Devils to actually give the ball to their best player (I may have been financially incentivized to root for Duke).

Bagley’s role at the NBA level is somewhat of a mystery. He spent the vast majority of his time at Duke as a true power forward playing alongside either Wendell Carter Jr. or Marques Bolden. In the Blue Devils’ two-big alignment, Bagley dominated what was usually a smaller defender in the post. Going forward, the question remains as to whether he can continue to function as a power forward, or will need to thrive as a small-ball center.

The problem with the Bagley as a 5 is that he has not demonstrated prowess as a rim protector, averaging only 0.9 blocks as a Blue Devil. Bagley skipped the measurement portion of the NBA combine, but previously checked in with just a 7’0” wingspan; by comparison, his teammate Carter measured at 7’4.5” and Texas center Mo Bamba practically touched both walls of the gym at once with a mark of 7’10”. Bagley doesn’t have the physical profile, and hasn’t demonstrated the instincts, to anchor a team’s defense.

On the other end, if Bagley is to remain a 4, he will need to greatly improve his outside shooting. Despite his solid percentage from three, he only had 58 total attempts from behind the arc. His poor free throw shooting numbers serve as a better indicator that the shot is still a work in progress. If he can work to make opposing defenses respect his shot though, he does have one thing working in his favor. Bagley has shown the ability to stay with smaller guards on the perimeter, a crucial skill in today’s switch-happy NBA where he would often be matched up with quicker wings as a power forward.

If Bagley were to fall this far in the draft, it would be the first time since 2013 that a Duke player didn’t go top-3 (you’re slipping, Coach K). One lottery team will hope his tremendous athleticism will enable this old-school player to transition to the modern game.

Alabama guard Collin Sexton and Michigan State forward Miles Bridges have been added to the list. Who should go next at #5?


Which player should be selected at #5?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Trae Young
    (42 votes)
  • 1%
    Collin Sexton
    (8 votes)
  • 51%
    Michael Porter Jr.
    (233 votes)
  • 28%
    Mo Bamba
    (130 votes)
  • 3%
    Wendell Carter Jr.
    (16 votes)
  • 3%
    Mikal Bridges
    (17 votes)
  • 1%
    Miles Bridges
    (7 votes)
453 votes total Vote Now

Liberty Ballers Big Board:

  1. Luka Dončić - PG/SG - Real Madrid
  2. DeAndre Ayton - C - Arizona
  3. Jaren Jackson Jr. - PF/C - Michigan State
  4. Marvin Bagley III - PF, Duke
  5. To be determined

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