Marvin Bagley

Marvin Bagley is a 6’10.5 220lb+ freshman playing the 4/5 for Duke University. Originally expected to graduate from high school in 2018, Bagley reclassified to play on one of the most loaded college teams in recent history. Armed with returning senior Grayson Allen, who I think should have left after his sophomore or junior year, and a loaded freshman class including Bagley, PG Trevon Duval, wing Gary Trent Jr., and C Wendell Carter Jr., Duke is poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.


Even though the team is loaded with talent, Bagley is viewed as the cream of the crop and a top five lock in the 2018 Draft. What makes Bagley so special isn’t his measurements (7′ wingspan to a 6’10.5 frame is not great – the average PF has a wingspan of 6’11.75), but his overall skillset, physicality, and competitive nature.

Short overview

  • tall, athletic 4/5 who is a high level defender and shows flashes of offensive versatility
    • awesome foot speed on both offense and defense
    • explosive leaper who is quick off his feet on initial jump and has a lightning quick second jump
    • solid frame – likely gets up to 240-245 without losing a bit of athleticism
  • Offense
    • likes driving left after facing up
      • really prefers finishing with his left hand – will have a layup with right hand and use left hand often
      • explodes by guys slower than him, punishes smaller players in paint
    • can post up on either block, but still goes back to the left hand
      • when posting, he is very aggressive – doesn’t let bigger guys stop him from getting to his spots; he plays angry
    • finishes everything in the paint
    • offensive rebounder
    • good form on shot after the ball reaches his neck
      • he has a bit of a windup (likes going from bottom up in shot, instead of simply catching and shooting)
        • windup allows defense to upset rhythm
        • if he reduces the motion in his jumper, it will become more consistent as he gets fatigued later in game
    • not particularly consistent on his jumper, but he has shown the ability to hit the open jumper
      • the more work he puts in, the better he’ll be – I fully expect him to be a consistent mid-range jump shooter, maybe stretch it out to three in time
    • likes turning and facing basket from 15-17
    • defense in college and NBA will force him to use his right hand
      • this is something to look out for this season
  • Defense
    • can switch onto smaller players on perimeter / has ability to guard anywhere in half-court (post, perimeter, mid-range) – in an NBA that has defenses switching a lot and requiring defensive versatility, his ability to do this is unbelievably important and gives him a very high defensive ceiling
    • good shot blocker – doesn’t rely on athleticism, but instead using timing
    • excellent defensive rebounder
    • doesn’t lose focus on defense when he is on ball, but can use work off ball and in PnR situations
    • if he is getting backed down on post, he’ll push back – doesn’t just allow offensive player to get into position or where he wants


I believe that the reason why people are so high on Bagley is for his defensive potential, more than anything else.  He shows flashes of a jumper, even if it is still a little inconsistent, and an angry/aggressive finishing ability in the paint, but on the defensive side is where he could be special.

Athleticism and frame

Simply put, Marvin Bagley is an athlete – he’s the total athletic package, not lacking in any single area. Some players have the quickness but lack the vertical explosion; others have both, but don’t have the frame; and some players have neither. Bagley, however, really is the full tooled athlete. In today’s NBA, bigs need to be able to guard the perimeter and have the ability to switch onto guards and wings. Players are becoming faster and faster shooting from three, so when opposing teams run pick and rolls, bigs need to be able to get out and contest quickly (or hedge and quickly return to his man). Bagley can do both. He’s super light on his feet on the perimeter and has shown the ability to fully switch onto smaller players on the perimeter, while at the same time having the quickness to help and return to his man.


A comparison for this ability of his would be Chris Bosh / Anthony Davis. Both Bosh and Davis have / had the ability to switch onto smaller players or return in the PnR, depending on who the ball-handler was and how the team was scheming to guard the PnR. Bosh’s ability to guard smaller players is part of what made the 2010-14 Heat so devastating on defense – any time the opposing team would run a pick and roll / pop, Bosh and the on-ball defender (Chalmers, Wade, Cole, etc) would almost immediately trap the defender, forcing the ball-handler to give up the ball. Bosh would then rotate back onto his man, and the team would not miss a beat on defense. Bagley’s elite quickness will immediately put him near the top of the most athletic perimeter defenders for bigs in the league the moment he steps onto the court.


When you combine his elite quickness with his explosive leaping ability and quick jumps, you have the ultimate athlete. Bagley is an explosive leaper, with a maximum reach I’m guessing should be around 12 feet+. This means he will be able to grab rebounds at a higher point, block shots at their peak, and make himself an easier lob-target. The quick second jump is also super important if he mistimes his first jump, or misses a shot in the paint and goes to grab the rebound on a second attempt. Shawn Marion had one of the quickest second jumps in the NBA during his playing career, and it showed in the stats, as he averaged ~9 rebounds per game and sported a 14.3 Total RB% throughout his career and topping off at 17 from the 3. To put that in perspective, DeAndre Jordan’s Total RB% for his career is at 20.8, and he only plays in the paint at the 5. I believe Bagley has the potential to average upwards of 10-12 rebounds per game. Next to a weaker rebounder, he’d be a perfect fit.


At 220lbs, Bagley is currently a little light for a power forward, but he has the frame to add at least another 15 lbs of “good weight” (without it affecting his athleticism). He’s not the broadest player (if he were, he’d be able to put on a little more), but he’s not super thin up top or in the legs either. Long term, I envision his frame can look like what Kevin Garnett’s looked like during his career (without the freakish length) – KG probably never topped off higher than 240lbs, but he had the wiry strength that made him a nuisance in the post to score on. Bagley should focus on core strength and lower body strength first and foremost, as he will be defending the post often, but he should not put on too much weight that he loses his athleticism. Bagley also has the one NBA trait that cannot be taught or drilled into players – motor. He’s always moving, his head is always on a swivel, always attentive to what’s going on on the court on ball and off ball, active hands, active feet, etc.


On the flip side, according to his last recorded measurements, he’s not particularly long and appears to have just about average length – wingspan: 7’0.5 Bagley vs 6’11.5 average wingspan and standing reach: 8’9 Bagley, 8’9.5 average. Even though the NBA is moving towards length being viewed as a major factor when evaluating a prospect, as it should be, Bagley’s athleticism should help quell some of the fears about him not being particularly long.



When you look at Bagley’s athleticism, his defensive potential is the first thing that strikes you. As I previously mentioned, his combination of lateral quickness, explosive leaping ability, and the way he moves lightly on his feet, it’s easy to envision Bagley as an immediate impact defender with the potential to be a long-term defensive player of the year candidate. He has the quickness to stick with smaller players and the shot blocking instincts to defend the rim and contest shots. He’ll never be the immovable player in the post on defense that Chuck Hayes was (honestly, he was one of a kind), but he should be able to hold his own in today’s NBA, where power forwards are no longer the reckoning forces they were in the 90s/2000s where starting two bigs was the way of life.


Bagley gets his blocks with very good timing (due to his good IQ, quick jump, and leaping ability). I mentioned Chris Bosh / Anthony Davis earlier, and I do think he has that type of defensive versatility / potential. I think he’ll be able to get out and hedge and recover quickly or simply stick with the perimeter player.


Given the amount of small ball in today’s NBA, that’s an incredibly important defensive skill. He’ll be able to guard everyone from LeBron James, Draymond Green (and Kevin Durant when the Warriors go with their “death lineup”), Kristaps Porzingis, to a legitimate small forward masquerading at PF for large minutes such as Tobias Harris and Jayson Tatum. Most bigs guarding the perimeter either don’t have the footwork/speed to defend out there, or they use their hands instead of moving laterally on defense. Bagley has the footwork/speed and plays defense with his feet, using his hands to poke at opportune times, play the passing lanes, etc.


Bagley really does have the perfect defensive versatility for today’s NBA, and it will only get better as he fills out and gains NBA experience. In a few years, I envision Bagley being able to defend the 1-5 (1-3 on switches, 4-5 as his main defensive matchups). He will end up being a perfect fit on nearly any team that is lucky enough to draft him. His full defensive potential will show as he improve his team defense, which can still use a little bit of tweaking – I’m hoping Coach K helps iron this out this year at Duke.



Between his offensive and defensive skills, his offensive skills are lacking. Part of this is due to him simply being a very advanced defender for his age, and the other part is because Bagley doesn’t have any elite offensive skills…yet…BUT, what he does show is flashes of what he can do. Bagley has good form on his jumper, but it’s not the most consistent shot yet. I think part of the reason for the inconsistency is the starting point for the shot. Before shooting, the ball dips a little / starts low, if he’s facing up or shooting off the dribble. I believe this is part of the inconsistency, because it’s not compact and it’s easy for defenders to get their hands into the motion to disrupt it. Even if there is no defender there, his shot starting low can signify a more upper-body focused release (instead of a balanced one), which means that as he gets more tired, the release point can vary (heavy legs, more arms). As his shot gets better, teams will need to adjust to his shot and ability to take players off the dribble to his strong hand (more on that below). Until that happens, if he gets the ball outside of 15 feet, teams will sag off and force him to shoot because he’s too quick for most bigs to guard on the perimeter.


His handle is solid, not great, for a power forward, and he’s very left-hand dominant. If he drives right, he likes going back to the middle to finish with his left; if he drives baseline on the right side, he likes going back to his left hand; his moves on the low block are almost exclusively left-handed (he has a nice mini-jump hook and a nice touch, but even that can come off flat at times). He can take less athletic / slower bigs off the dribble from the top of the key or the elbow, but he’s not someone you’re going to want starting an offense (although as his handle gets better, maybe this can be looked into down the line).


Bagley’s post moves are very decisive, quick, and aggressive – he doesn’t waste time with jab steps, fancy footwork, or anything like that (although you might see a jab step to get the defender back on his feet and see Bagley attack left or attempt a jumper, on occasion). When he attacks from the post, he does it with a purpose – to get at, or near the rim. Bagley also is not really a playmaker for others – when he gets the ball, he’s not really looking to create for others, so anyone expecting a Draymond Green / Blake Griffin point-forward will be left disappointed. With everything said about his handle, if less athletic players are left guarding him on the perimeter or when he faces up, he will be able to take them off the dribble – teams will have to play him off his strong hand, because that’s what he’s most comfortable using.



As of right now, Marvin Bagley is a top 5 lock. He has the physical tools, the competitive mind-set and heart / motor, elite defensive ability, and has shown offensive flashes (and a base skill set of a paint-finisher and a strong left hand driver). If I had to compare him to anyone, I would say a quicker / younger Chris Bosh (before the killer mid-range and ability to really stretch the defense). On defense, I think he has the floor of a high level defensive player (a smarter and more athletic Nerlens Noel if he doesn’t improve at all), but the ceiling of an elite defensive player of the year candidate (a more disciplined DeAndre Jordan). On offense, he has the floor of a paint-finisher (think young Nene with his strong-hand drives and minimal off-hand drives, with great paint-finishing), but the ceiling of a more angry/aggressive/physical Chris Bosh (if he’s able to expand his range out to mid-range and beyond). When it’s all said and done, at worst, I can see him being a very good defensive starter who can rebound and finish in the paint; at best, he can be a DPOY candidate who can hit the mid-range jumper.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close