BOSTON – Marvin Bagley III has proven himself to be among the best high school basketball players in the country, a 6-foot-11 left-handed power forward whose skills are as close to NBA-ready as you will find in the prep ranks.
Sensing his jump to the NBA might be sooner rather than later, he’s attempting to re-classify himself and play college basketball this season rather than play another year in high school.
- Blakely: Top 10 NBA offseason additions
- 10th anniversary of the Kevin Garnett trade
- Blakely: Why the Celtics shouldn't trade for Kyrie Irving
It is a complicated process, one that becomes even more convoluted when you consider the 18-year-old has already attended three high schools (two in Arizona, one in Southern California), meaning there will be at least three different paper trails the NCAA must take into account if he is to have clearance to play Division I basketball this upcoming season.
And that doesn’t even take into account that for most universities, the school year officially begins in a couple of weeks.
If he does manage to get the green light to play from the NCAA, it has potential ramifications for both the college game (whatever team he signs with will likely be the odds-on favorite to win a national championship this season) and NBA teams, such as the Celtics, who are likely to have one of the top draft picks next year courtesy of yet another first-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets as part of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade in 2013.
As much as the Celtics would love to be in position to draft a player with Bagley’s talent, having him start the one-and-done process this year rather than the fall of 2018 has other benefits as well.
It provides yet another talented option near the top of the 2018 draft board for the Celtics to choose from, just in case they don’t get the No. 1 overall pick.
And if they do get it, maybe they will trade it, which is exactly what they did in June.
In return, they slid down two spots to No. 3, where they selected Jayson Tatum from Duke in addition to acquiring a future first-round pick.
And while the Celtics get plenty of praise for landing top-tier free agents each of the past two summers in Al Horford and most recently Gordon Hayward, championships are won by teams with both stars and a supporting cast that learns how to become stars in their respective roles.
We’ve seen that with Golden State and Cleveland as they’ve gone back and forth with the Larry O’Brien Trophy the past three years.
And we see Boston in the early stages of assembling a team with similar growth among its youth, such as second-year wing Jaylen Brown, whose play steadily improved with him earning a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie second team while playing on the team that finished with the best record (53-29) in the Eastern Conference.
Boston still has some pieces to add on before they are firmly entrenched as a championship contender, but they know the quickest way to get there is to draft a player with superstar talent from Day One.
The 2018 draft, more so than the past couple of draft classes, appears to have a handful of players many believe can come in and contribute significantly to any team – even one that’s a legitimate title-chaser like Boston – in part because of their size and versatility.
Bagley III would join an elite top-of-the-draft class of big men that includes 6-foot-11 Missouri-bound forward Michael Porter, 7-footers DeAndre Ayton (Arizona) and Mohamed Bamba (Texas) and Texas A&M big man Robert Williams. The top international prospect is Luka Doncic, a 6-7 wing from Slovenia.
Of course, Boston’s chances of landing one of those players rests heavily in the hands of the Nets, who are once again projected to struggle this season.
If the Nets have the kind of season most anticipate, the Celtics will be in line to use that pick from the Nets and add one of those players next June to help strengthen a roster that’s trending in the right direction in its quest for what truly matters to this franchise – Banner 18.