Teams forward thinking as draft approaches
Bagley, Porter headline list of top prospects
Marvin Bagley III dominated at Duke, while fellow freshman Michael Porter Jr. barely saw action at Missouri due to injury. Yet they’ll likely be the first forwards to hear their names called during Thursday’s draft.
Bagley is a possible No. 1 overall pick and double-double machine with a long frame. But many considered Porter to be the top NBA prospect in last year’s class as he works to prove he’s past the back injury that required surgery and limited his college career to just three games.
Here’s a look at the top forwards in the draft:
MARVIN BAGLEY III
Bagley lived up to all expectations, being named The Associated Press player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference and a first-team All-American .
STRENGTHS: The 6-foot-11 forward checks a lot of boxes: athleticism, inside-out ability, length. He averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting 61 percent from the floor and nearly 40 percent from 3-point range. He has good touch around the rim, the ability to shoot over defenders and was a strong finisher.
CONCERNS: Bagley is still developing defensively, particularly when it comes with what is happening away from the ball. He also tends to be too left-hand reliant at times and needs to improve going the other way.
MICHAEL PORTER JR.
The injury creates plenty of uncertainty and makes the 6-10 forward a bit of a wild card, one who could return top-of-the-draft value for a mid-lottery price.
STRENGTHS: Porter was considered by many as last year’s top recruit with his scoring, playmaking ability and athleticism. He was a McDonald’s All-American in high school after averaging 36.2 points and 13.6 rebounds per game during his senior year.
CONCERNS: There’s little to evaluate with Porter against college competition considering he was hurt minutes into the season opener. He didn’t play again until the postseason. It’s unclear if the injury will limit his ceiling in any way.
Michigan State’s sophomore is a versatile lottery prospect in a pro-ready 6-7 body.
STRENGTHS: Bridges did a lot of things well last year while averaging 17.1 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He’s strong enough to both tussle with bigger players and overpower perimeter forwards. And he was excellent at the foul line (.853) to cash in when drawing contact.
CONCERNS: Bridges needs to continue honing his perimeter skills. He shot nearly 39 percent from 3-point range as a freshman, but slid to 36 percent last year.
The 6-7 junior swingman developed into a potential top-10 pick for national champion Villanova.
STRENGTHS: Bridges offers the desired combination of 3-point shooting and defensive ability, a valuable package in today’s NBA. Bridges shot nearly 44 percent from behind the arc. He also has the length to be a disruptive defender after leading the Wildcats with 61 steals.
CONCERNS: Bridges needs to add some more strength to a lean 209-pound frame. He also blended in offensively on a deep and efficient offense, so he didn’t need to show a lot when it came to creating his own shot.
The 6-9 freshman out of Kentucky brings a stretch-4 skillset with good size and shooting range, making him a possible lottery pick.
STRENGTHS: Knox has NBA shooting range, fluid offensive moves and the ability to get out in transition. He showed his high ceiling with 34 points on 11-for-17 shooting with five 3-pointers in a win at West Virginia in January.
CONCERNS: He was a bit of a streaky shooter at times who hit just 34 percent of his 3-pointers. He also could be a tougher rebounder; he had only two double-figure rebounding outputs in 37 games compared to 13 games with four or fewer boards.
OTHERS TO WATCH
n KOSTAS ANTETOKOUNMPO: The long 6-10 forward from Dayton aims to join his All-Star brother Giannis in the NBA, though he’s a project who needs time to develop and get stronger.
n KEITA BATES-DIOP: The Ohio State junior with a 7-3 wingspan made himself a possible first-rounder with a big season that included being named Big Ten player of the year.
n JUSTIN JACKSON: Maryland’s 6-7 sophomore could potentially play at small forward or as an undersized power forward with a 7-3 wingspan, though the likely second-rounder missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.
n MOE WAGNER: The 6-11 junior helped Michigan reach the NCAA championship game with his inside-out versatility . He’s a likely second-round prospect.
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Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.