The Chicago Bulls reportedly have their eyes on Duke Blue Devils big man Marvin Bagley III to pair with current rookie Lauri Markkanen.
Gar Forman, the general manager for the Bulls, has scouted the elite prospect before. As the NCAA season comes to an end, columnist Joe Cowley described the 19-year-old as “the ideal player” for head coach Fred Hoiberg.
This is consistent with a previous report from Cowley, who believes the big man is the player Chicago would like to draft in June (via Chicago Sun-Times):
“Privately, this is the player several members of the organization believe is a better fit with Markkanen. He would give Hoiberg two versatile bigs.”
Bagley will likely not be available when Chicago is drafting, though they could package their two first-round draft picks to trade up and select the 6-foot-11 player.
He averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds per game as the ACC Player of the Year. Duke made it to the Elite Eight, where they were defeated by the Kansas Jayhawks in overtime.
One worry, however, is that he averaged less than one block and less than one steal per 40 minutes. According to ESPN, this makes him one of five lottery big men (including Markkanen) with such low defensive marks.
Jonathan Tjarks wrote about whether Bagley could play center in the NBA (via The Ringer):
“Bagley’s defensive issues make it difficult to fit him into a role on an NBA team. He would be an incredible rim runner in a pick-and-roll offense, but those players are typically also asked to control the paint on defense. If he’s playing as a power forward and not as a center, he will have to become a more perimeter-oriented player on both ends of the floor.”
Others have mentioned this concern as well.
If this analysis proves to be correct, it would be tough to justify trading up for him only to play him alongside Markkanen.
Perhaps a better fit for Chicago would be someone who can guard the paint, covering for Markkanen’s biggest liability.