While many predicted the Duke Blue Devils would put together a run to the 2018 Final Four, that won’t be the case. Mike Krzyzewski’s team fell short in a battle against fellow No. 1 seed Kansas in the Elite Eight and, as a result, the (brief) college careers of freshmen Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter are almost certainly over. Despite the loss, nothing that transpired in that somewhat surprising defeat (depending on who you ask) should impact either player when it comes to the 2018 NBA Draft.
That is especially true for Bagley, a 6’11, 234-pound big man who wasn’t even “supposed” to be in college this season but elected to reclassify in order to eventually become eligible for the 2018 draft. That decision looks to be the right one, as Bagley cruised to season-long averages north of 20 points and 10 rebounds per game while operating incredible efficiency and explosiveness. As a result of that production and his unquestionable athletic burst, many have pointed to Bagley as a legitimate candidate for the No. 1 overall pick and, even if that projection might be a bit ambitious, his name will be in the discussion.
In truth, Bagley profiles as a tremendous NBA player. He boasts an incredibly impressive “second jump ability,” leaping off the floor multiple times with regularity and, as a result, dominating on the glass. That should translate well to the next level and, on a nightly basis, Bagley has flashed high-end scoring ability and touch around the rim. From an athletic standpoint, Bagley might be the most explosive player in the class and, if that entire package of traits manifests in the best possible way, there is no limit for what he can become as a professional.
With that said, there are some questions about the likely one-and-done big man. Bagley is probably a center at the next level but, during his time at Duke, he played almost exclusively with another traditional big man. Given his relatively limited wingspan, rim protection could be an issue. In fact, the defensive end in general brings question marks in that Duke ran a zone for most of the season and there were moments in which Bagley seemed lost.
Offensively, there are fewer concerns, especially given the potential for the development of a passable three-point jump shot. There wasn’t a ton of volume generated from the perimeter but, if that jumper becomes a weapon in conjunction with real defensive development, there is no reason to believe Bagley can’t be an NBA All-Star. On the year, Bagley went 23-for-58 (39.7 percent) from downtown.
His teammate, the aforementioned Carter, may be “safer” in projecting an NBA rotation player and fellow stud freshman Deandre Ayton is seen by many as a superior overall prospect. Still, Bagley did a fantastic job during his freshman season and it can’t be overstated just how good he will be if everything comes together.
Where should he land in an NBA mock draft prior to the Final Four? Well, let’s find out.