Atlanta Hawks Blog

A blog about Atlanta’s NBA franchise, from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hawks draft workout report: Marvin Bagley III, Duke


The Hawks played host to former Duke forward Marvin Bagley III for a pre-draft workout on Thursday. He could be available when the Hawks are on the clock with the No. 3 overall pick, assuming they keep it and don’t trade down. 

Among front-court players in the draft, Bagley probably is the most talented and polished offensively. He’s a very skilled scorer around the basket and has “bouncy” athleticism. But there are concerns about Bagley’s NBA fit: he’ll need to improve his jump shot to be a “stretch forward” in the NBA and he could struggle to protect the rim defensively as a center because of his relatively short wingspan 

Click here for Hawks assistant general manager Jeff Peterson’s thoughts on Bagley. Peterson said Bagley stands out for his maximum effort in practices and games. 

Click here for my March report on Bagley from Duke’s game against St. John’s in New York.

Below are some lightly edited excerpts from Bagley’s media session with Atlanta media following his Hawks workout: 

Q. How was the workout with the Hawks? 

A. It was a great workout. We did a lot of ball-handling drills, handling the ball off the pick-and-roll. Just being able to play with the ball in my hands. We did a lot of that kind of stuff. Passing. 

Q. In these workouts settings, what are some aspects of your game you are able to show that you weren’t able to at Duke? 

 A. Come off screens, shoot off the screen, playing with the ball. Instead of being a screener, being a ball-handler in the pick-and-roll. We did a lot of that stuff today, a lot of one-on-one, a lot of different situations I was put in to make reads and just play basketball. That’s what was fun about today’s workout. 

Q. Do you think there will be a big adjustment going from playing in college to the NBA? 

A. A little bit. It’s a different game. The spacing is a lot different. The speed is a lot different. I think when I first come in it will take a little bit of time just like when I came into college it took a little bit of time to adjust. Once I get adjusted, it’s just playing and learning different concepts about the game. I’m definitely excited about that. 

Q. Can you elaborate on your previous statement about feeling disrespected if you are not the No. 1 pick? 

A. That’s just the competitor in me talking. I’ve put a lot of work into this and I think I’m the best player in the draft. And I mean that in the most humblest way possible, not to be cocky. It’s just I know how much I’ve put into this and sacrificed for this. That’s just how competitive I am. I hate to lose. You want to win and get better while doing it. Me saying that is just the confidence I have in myself. 

Q. The Hawks have a new coach (Lloyd Pierce) and are rebuilding. Do you think that’s an ideal situation for you? 

A. It’s a great place to come in to. The new coach and whoever gets drafted here can work together and kind of figure out each other along the way throughout the whole process. I think this is a place where I can get better and especially develop as a player on and off the court. 

Q. Have you talked to coach Pierce about how the Hawks could use you? 

A. Yeah, he’s mentioned it a little bit, how he can put me at different spots and let me play and do what I do best. We had a couple conversations about that. He seems like he’s a great coach. I know he has a lot of experience. It will be exciting if I get a chance to come and work with him. 

Q. What do you think you do best. What is your game? 

A. I have a high motor. I’m never going to take plays off. I’m going to attack the other team as hard as I possibly can and play every play like it’s my last. Rebounding, scoring—I think I bring a lot to the table. I’m very excited to show that at the next level. 

Q. How much was showing that you can stretch the floor as a shooter important to you, knowing how the NBA is going now? 

 A. Being able to go inside and out, I think that kind of confuses the defense. They don’t know what to stop. They try to stop you inside and you can go outside and do a lot of things; they try to stop you outside and you can go to your strengths inside. That’s what I try to work on every day is try to do inside skills and handling the ball as well. 

Q. Are you tired of hearing you are a bad defender? 

A. Yes. I’m tired of hearing it. 

Q. Do you think you are a bad defender? 

A. I think I’m a great defensive player. It’s just a lot of talk that comes around. I don’t pay attention to it at all. You definitely want to get better at the defensive end. But I don’t know how that got around, all the rumors about defense. I don’t think that is going to be a problem with me in the NBA.

Q. You can’t change your wingspan. You are not the longest guy. How can you be an effective defender despite that in the NBA where there are a lot of young guys? 

A. Quickness, that is an advantage that I have. I think I’ve got a pretty good wingspan. (It reportedly measured 7-foot in 2014, which would be among the shortest for starting NBA centers.) 

Q. Have teams talked to you about if they envision using you as a “small ball” center? 

A. Yeah, something like that. Put me inside and out. Use me in different ways where I can throw the defense off and be able to attack for my team and myself.


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About the Author

Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010.