Potential top-three pick, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, declares for NBA draft

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Marvin Bagley III reclassified to play at Duke this season, accelerating his timeline to the NBA.

He took advantage with a stellar year, and now it’s time to make that high-school graduation change pay off.

Duke release:

Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III has announced that he will enter his name in the 2018 NBA Draft.

“I want to thank everyone that supported us throughout the entire year,” said Bagley. “The coaching staff and teammates have made this such a great year and something so special. I’ve always dreamed of coming to Duke and being part of this tradition under Coach K. I’m just so thankful for the opportunity here at Duke, and to have been part of it.”

Bagley doesn’t outright say he’ll hire an agent and remain in the draft, but it sure sounds as if he’s finished at Duke. Considering his draft stock, we can safely assume that’s the case.

After Slovenian point guard Luca Doncic and Arizona center DeAndre Ayton, Bagley might be the most heralded prospect in this draft. He’ll almost certainly get selected in the top half of the lottery, and he has a good chance of being the No. 3 pick.

Bagley uses his eye-popping athleticism and strong motor to hunt shots near the basket and grab rebounds. He gets up and down the court and above the rim in a hurry. He can also handle the ball, elevating him from a hustle player to someone with star potential.

At 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, he looks like a center in the modern NBA. But his rim protection and overall defense are lacking. He might need a more-established center to cover for him, especially early in his career. That would draw more attention to Bagley’s jumper. Though his 40% 3-point shooting on 58 attempts at Duke suggests some outside-shooting potential, his jump shot is unreliable. That’ll be a much bigger issue if his defensive shortcomings force him to play power forward.

So, Bagley’s transition to the NBA won’t necessarily be seamless. But with his tools and drive, it’s well worth figuring out how he fits best.