Bagley has as much natural talent as anyone in this year’s draft, Porter included. His decision to attend Duke ensured that he’s on a national title contender, and also gives Duke the most talent on paper heading into the season for the second year in a row. His decision also guaranteed his eligibility as Duke seems to be able to clear players in situations where no other program is able to. Some felt that he was the top talent on the high school level, Porter included, and a big season could put him in top pick contention. Bagley’s ability to perform consistently, improve his shooting and play as part of a team will be key in how highly he gets selected, and his ultimate success at the NBA level.
Jackson was one of the few college players that drew positive reviews from NBA scouts at the Nike Academy. Tom Izzo isn’t big on showcasing freshmen, particularly bigs. See Zach Randolph. But Jackson’s talent is very intriguing. He’ll need to prove himself in the minutes that he gets and focus on being ready to play even if he’s not given a prominent role. He may struggle to put up big numbers, but his potential as a long, athletic big with offensive touch could allow him to go this high.
Carter isn’t the sexiest prospect, but his work ethic and skill level is impressive for an 18 year old. He is extremely smart, having received Ivy League interest along with Bamba and that translates to the court. While his ceiling isn’t as high as others due to his lack of speed and fluidity, his floor is very solid as he has great length, and finds ways to outwork and outsmart more talented opponents on the floor.
On talent, Williams deserves to be higher, but he did not have a strong summer showing and questions linger about his focus, determination and feel for the game. He has the type of rare length and athleticism that could make him a superstar at the next level. The big question is whether he’s learning the right work habits and focusing on the right things to improve his skill set. At times he seems to want to show that he can face up and create offense from the perimeter, when his focus should be more on utilizing his great size and strength and dominating on the block, and advancing his back-to-the-basket game.
Bridges is an undersized 4 but he proved to be a productive scorer as a freshman. He even shot the ball well from 3. He’s one of the most explosive athletes in college. More will be expected from him this season if he is to maintain his status as a potential lottery pick. He shows a lot of determination, but at 6-foot-7 and with a short wingspan, he has an uphill battle playing against bigger opponents.
Metu will look to build off of a breakout sophomore season in which he averaged just under 15 ppg and 8 rebs. He is a high-level athlete with solid scoring and rebounding ability. He has a great body, showing the ability to play physical in the post and also some finesse to face the basket. He could break out this year into one of the top big men in the country if he can sustain his intensity level throughout games and raise his consistency. He fits the mold of today’s NBA four man with his versatility to defend, rebound, and score inside and out.