Part of Jeff Peterson’s responsibilities as Hawks assistant general manager is to oversee the team’s scouting process. That’s a particularly important role this year as the Hawks own the No. 3 draft pick in addition to Nos. 19, 30 and 34.
I recently sat down with Peterson to get his thoughts on eight top prospects in the 2018 draft: Deandre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr., Mo Bamba, Michael Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr. and Trae Young. Over the next several days I’ll post some lightly-edited transcripts of those conversations.
Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke
Height/weight: 6-foot-11, 234 pounds (listed)
Age: 19 (March 14, 1999)
Hometown: Tempe, Ariz.
ESPN draft projection: No. 2 to the Kings.
(Click here for my January report on Bagley from Duke’s game vs. St. John’s in New York.)
Q. (Cunningham) Bagley is very athletic and smooth. He’s very productive as a scorer, mostly around the basket. How does his game translate to the league?
A. (Peterson) One thing you get immediately with him is his motor, his willingness to play hard every possession. You go watch him in practice, in a game, in a workout and he’s going hard. Coaches will very, very much appreciate that they won’t have to coach his effort. As fans, you will really appreciate that he is going to go hard every possession. Regardless of who he’s going up against, he’s trying to take the head off. So I think that will definitely translate. He was very left-handed dominant this year so that’s an area he can improve is getting more comfortable with his right hand. At the same time, he’s so damn productive with his left, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. There’s a few guys in the league who have go-to moves and you know they are going to it and they still get it off because they are that good, that athletic. But I think he can improve with his right hand. His shooting can continue to get better. That’s another area where, again, the positive thing about that is he works hard. So if he puts the work in, I think his shooting will get better. It may take a little time, but it will get better.
Q. His wingspan is relatively short. Do you think he can be a center in the NBA and protect the rim?
A. I do. It was a little bit challenging at Duke because they played zone, and he typically played away from the basket and Wendell Carter (also a projected lottery pick) was under the basket. I think playing man in general will probably be a little bot of an adjustment with the rules and different techniques. I think he will be able to pick that stuff up and his block rate will go up just because he is so athletic. He is so bouncy. His first and second jumps are so crazy.
Q. Does he remind you of John Collins at all?
A. Yeah, they are similar in some ways, absolutely. It’s pretty impressive.
Q. We saw with Collins that the coaches worked with him to extend his shooting range. There hasn’t been much of a sample yet, but the early results are pretty good. Could you see the same thing happening with Bagley?
A. Yeah, I think it comes on both ends. You have John, who knows that range shooting was an area that he can improve in and wanted to get better. At the same time he trusted our coaches to help him in that area. Bagley has that same willingness to learn and want to be coach. There is no doubt coach (Lloyd) Pierce and his staff are going to be able to pinpoint where he needs to get better and this is what he needs to change to become a better shooter.