At CelticsHub this year we will be focusing on a potentially fluid list of the top 5 prospects and track their progress throughout the season. Since the Celtics will only select in this year’s lottery if the Los Angeles Lakers fall between the 2nd and 5th pick, it doesn’t make sense for Cs fans to get familiar with more than a handful of top prospects. In the weeks leading up to the college basketball season we will be introducing some of the names you should start to get to know and the number one reason why you should get excited about them. Next up: Marvin Bagley III
Duke~Forward~6’11” 230 lbs (7’0.5″ wingspan)
Draft Range: Top 5
Ceiling Comp Group: Prime Derrick Coleman, Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett
60 Words or Less: ESPN’s Jay Bilas referred to Marvin Bagley III as the “freak of freaks” in the PK80 final against Florida and he isn’t exaggerating. In today’s NBA landscape you need the freakiest freaks to compete at the highest level and Duke’s freshman forward checks all the boxes. Originally in the 2018 class, Bagley will certainly compete to go #1 overall come this June.
#1 Reason To Get Excited About Marvin Bagley: A Derrick Coleman Do-Over
The hardest type of player to evaluate in the modern NBA is the traditional power forward. He’s not quite big or strong enough to play center or skilled enough to play on the wing full-time. If you’re 6’9″-6’11 and not a pure perimeter player, you have to prove that you will be able to be able to slide up or down a position for stretches of the game or your value is limited.
Even in the positionless era, you have to be able to guard someone and as the saying goes, you are who you can guard. A generation ago, players like Al Horford, Chris Bosh and late-career Kevin Garnett would have been able to live comfortably in their natural habitats along side bruising centers that protected them from the nightly grind of battling in the paint. In 2017 Al Horford may be able to start a game at power forward but the vast majority of the time he’s going to finish it as the lone big man on the floor surround by perimeter players.
There are two types of power forward archetypes: the tree-stump bruiser and the lanky athlete. Duke’s Marvin Bagley III is very much later. At 6’11’, 230 lbs he is all arms and pogo stick legs (and hair). Bagley is a fantastic run and jump athlete and has already shown flashes of a devastating inside-out game. So far in his brief career at Duke he has been sharing the floor with a traditional center, Wendell Carter, Jr., and it’s clearly a comfortable space for him to operate in.
The question at the next level will be if he can operate as the lone big on the floor while providing enough offensive and defensive punch to compete the highest levels. There is still so much basketball to be played but I think the early answer to that is a strong YES! I feel even more strongly about his ability to operate at the lone big on the floor in the context of a team like the Celtics where there is size and defense all over the court.
I've now seen Marvin Bagley (3sticks) play for 10 minutes and so am confident that he would be a good fit with Kyrie/Jaylen/Gordon/Tatum.
— Ryan Bernardoni (@dangercart) November 25, 2017
Full disclosure, I’ve had a hard time seeing it with Bagley as a can’t-miss franchise changing prospect. A multiple-time all-star who can be a top-2 or 3 player on a championship team? Sure. Chris Bosh-like? Absolutely. But it wasn’t until the other day that his potential as a truly-special player hit me and it was sparked by a random highlight against Utah Valley University.
This steal and one-dribble-from-half-court-dunk triggered a highlight that all kids from Central New York who are born in the 80s have burned into their brain.
Marvin Bagley III is Derrick Coleman in 1988. Late 80s and early 90s Derrick Coleman is one of the most talented basketball players to ever walk the earth. At 6’10”, 230 lbs, Coleman was the best athlete on the court and a 5-tool offensive player. Before the injuries and the bloated contract (and body) and before he was the face of an underachieving generation, he was the original modern power forward. The basketball world marveled at his size, skill and physical talent the same way that we drool over unicorns in 2017. So then I started to look at clips of the two left-handed players side-by-side… and it got weird.
There were soul-crushing block shots
Soft touch tip-ins…
…and thunderous dunks in over-the-top.
Pick-and-roll finishes at the rim…
…and smooth lefty pick-and-pop jumpers.
Side note: DC was a stretch-big before it was cool and was a very good 3-point shooter, but for some context, here he is at 18 years old.
He wasn’t anywhere close to where he would end up as a shooter and although Bagley’s stroke is inconsistent, it’s much further along than teenage Derrick Coleman.
Then there’s the post-play. We have the lefty float finish…
…the up-and-under across the body…
…and the 1-2 bounce, right shoulder moves.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the passing. We have interior passing…
…and the fancy stuff.
This guys loves it.
Last but not least, it’s the freaky stuff. Humans this large shouldn’t be able to run like this…
…or handle like this.
Coleman was an all-star and a gold-medalist within the confines of traditional 90s basketball, but would have been even more devastating in today’s NBA where skill and versatility is king. Once his body filled out, he was more than capable of defending the interior and could hang with the great centers of the 90s for long stretches.
Bagley is more advanced that Coleman was at 18 (which is a generational difference) and I believe he represents a Derrick Coleman do-over. What would have Coleman’s career looked like if he came along 30 years later and not only benefited from the changes in the way the game is played but also in the way the NBA develops and takes care of it’s youth? I think Marvin Bagley III has the chance to show us what that would look like and for some lucky team and it’s going to look pretty damn awesome.