Lakers pick still at #2 - a look at Marvin Bagley and Mohamed Bamba
At roughly the mid-season point, the Los Angeles Lakers have the second-worst record in the NBA, standing at 11-and-27. The Celtics own the Lakers pick if it falls between two and five, so let's look at a couple more players that may be drafted in that range.
Marvin Bagley III is a 6'11", 234-pound freshman and plays for Duke. He averages 21.9 PPG, 11.6 RPG and shoots 63% from the field, 35.7% from the arc and 60.7% from the foul line. He is projected to go third in SI's latest mock draft, and this is SI's Jeremy Woo on Bagley's potential:
There’s little arguing with Bagley’s production, and he’s coming off a massive 32-point, 21-rebound ACC debut against Florida State. He’s perhaps the best offensive rebounder in the country and has dominated in the paint since coming to college. Bagley has also shown off some ball-handling and passing skills and the ability to make the occasional jumper. He’s not as long as you’d like and not much of an interior defender, but there’s a lot of room for growth that makes him part of the conversation atop the draft. If he falls, nobody will be upset about drafting him third or fourth.
The major question with Bagley is his potential position in the NBA. In today's position-less basketball, he may have a good fit on certain teams, the Boston Celtics being one possibility. It is doubtful if he is rugged enough, though, to play a lot at the five against stronger, heavier centers.
Mohamed Bamba is a 7', 225-pound freshman for Texas. He has a tremendous 7'9" wingspan, and is a top-notch defender, a skill that will likely translate well to the NBA level. He averages 11.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and an unworldly 4.5 blocks. He needs some muscle, but his wide shoulders tell me he will gain what he needs once in the NBA. Here is SI's Jeremy Woo on Bamba:
Bamba is starting to dominate games defensively for Texas, and his confidence and comfort level has visibly grown. There aren’t many bigs who can switch a screen out onto a ballhandler, then switch back onto a roll man and contest their shot without breaking stride. Bamba blocks shots effortlessly with off-the charts length, and can reasonably defend all five positions at his size. How much his fledgling offensive skills evolve remains the wild card in the equation. The best possible version of Bamba could alter a franchise’s fortunes.
In an era where length, agility, IQ and touch are coveted, Bamba checks all the boxes and has a monstrous ceiling that other top prospects simply can't match. On the other hand, far too many big-time prospects have failed to live up to expectations due to a hot-cold motor and semi-disinterested approach, a skill that is harder to develop over time than others.
In SI's latest mock draft, they have European Luka Doncic going to the Celtics at the number two pick. Danny Ainge is getting better at evaluating European talent, so Luka is a possibility. Deandre Ayton appears to be a near-lock for number one, although he could slide one or two places. Bagley, as stated, may be a good fit for the Celtics. As far as Bamba, "Low motor" and "disinterest in the game" are warning signs in big men. Those two qualities in a little guy usually mean a short NBA career. In bigs it often means an average, or sub-average career.
Danny has done well in the last four drafts, taking Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. If he sees a solid talent at the top of the draft, he will go after him. If not, a trade will be in the works to go after proven talent. If the Lakers pick becomes a reality for the Celtics, this may even be a another trade-down draft for Ainge where he moves down a number of spots to pick a player that dropped or whose talents were not fully recognized by other execs. It worked well in the Markelle Fultz/Jayson Tatum deal.
Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC
Bagley photo via Lance King/Getty Images
Bamba photo via Gregory Payan/Associated Press