Observations on Marvin Bagley III, Cameron Johnson, and Joel Berry II

February 10, 2018

By Alan Lu

I took the time to watch an ACC basketball game that was played on February 8th between North Carolina and Duke, as this featured numerous prospects that could get picked in the first round for the NBA draft, it is also known to be arguably the most competitive rivalry in college basketball.  This game went all the way down the wire, but North Carolina made key shots and stops to pull out a home win over Duke.  Here are my thoughts on how various prospects played on this day.

Duke’s 6-11 freshman big man, Marvin Bagley III had a good showing in his team’s loss to North Carolina.  He was effective as a scorer in the paint, he threw good passes to his teammates on offense, and he hauled in many rebounds when he was on the court.  Bagley did a very good job of getting scores in the post.  He can score often on jump hooks, and a couple of times, he used a pivot move to throw down thunderous dunks to help his team.  But sometimes, he can miss on jump hooks, as sometimes his footwork can get jumbled when he is being closely guarded on the floor.

He also showed a decent ability to score on drives to the basket.  Bagley can draw numerous fouls upon the opposition, but sometimes he can miss shots in traffic, and he may not always display great shooting touch, as he missed a floater badly once off of after going right off of high post drive.  Also, he showed a decent ability to finish plays around the hoop, as he threw down an emphatic jam once, and he scored on a put back dunk another time, but sometimes he may miss shots due to rushing.

Also, he displayed good playmaking skills.  Bagley is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he also can throw accurate entry passes to set up scores for his teammates.  He only committed one turnover, but he did so once as he was posting up on the left block, and he after using a quick pivot move, and he had the ball ripped away from him by an opponent.  Plus, Bagley did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball.  He hauled in many boards when he was on the floor as he was basically like a chairman of the glass, and he would frequently leap up to collect boards on both ends of the court, but a few times, he would be out of position, which would lead his team to allow put back scores.

He also played adequate defense in this game.  Bagley showed more of a commitment to this end of the floor, as he would emphatically block shots around the basket to protect the paint for his team.  He also managed to poke a ball away on a drive to get a steal, and he also deflected a pass out of bounds, but he did tend to be late to contest three-point shots, as he would give up too much space, which would lead his team to allow baskets to the opposition.  On another play, he was wandering in no man’s land as he was late to get back on defense, and his team allowed an opponent to score on a dunk on the break.

In general, Marvin Bagley had a solid game, as he did a great job of rebounding the basketball, he excelled as a scorer in the paint, and he also collected plenty of assists.  He also seemed to play better defense than he has previously, even though his team ended up losing to their conference rival.  However, he did not look to take jumpers against North Carolina in this contest.  Still, Bagley is a very talented player that has the potential to end up being a multi-All-Star in the NBA, and he will likely be a top 3 pick in the upcoming draft.

North Carolina’s 6-8 redshirt junior forward, Cameron Johnson played very well in his team’s win over Duke.  He excelled as a shooter from beyond the arc and he was able to score in a variety of ways.  Plus, he played unselfishly, and he grabbed many boards when he was on the floor.  Johnson did a good job of knocking down threes to space the floor for his team.  He would make quick, spot-up threes off the catch, and he would usually get his shot off before opponents would be able to effectively close out on him.

He also showed an adequate ability of scoring on hustle plays.  Johnson managed to score on a floater and jump hook off of put backs, but he also missed a couple due to rushing his shots.  Plus, he also managed to score on a nifty, switch of hands layup on a drive in transition.  But on a half-court drive, he missed on an awkward switch of hands layup in traffic.

Plus, he also showed off adequate playmaking skills.  He is an unselfish player that throws good interior passes, and he does a very good job of finding teammates out on the break to set up scores for them.  He also did a great job of rebounding the basketball, and he will dive on the ground to collect boards for his team.  Johnson is an athletic swingman that possesses a very good motor, and he will scrap to get the tough boards.

However, he displayed just average at best defensive skills in this game.  For the positives, Johnson managed to heap on a loose ball to help his team get a steal, and he would actively contest shots to force misses, but sometimes, he would struggle to stay in front of his man, as he would commit a foul or allow scores off the dribble, and he also would be prone to giving up too much space to his man, which would lead him to give up three-point baskets to the opposition.

In summary, Cameron Johnson had a good showing, as he excelled as a shot maker, facilitator, and rebounder when he was on the floor for North Carolina.  He is an energetic role player that could perhaps excel as a 3 and D player at the next level, as he could end up being a good find for a team in the NBA.

North Carolina’s senior point guard, Joel Berry II played fairly well, and even though he struggled to make shots consistently, he was able to lead all scorers in points, and he also excelled in the other facets of the game to help his team get the win.  Berry did a fairly good job of getting scores off the dribble.  He is a quick guard that can split double teams, as he did so once to get a score and extra free throw for his team.  He excelled at drawing numerous fouls upon his opponents, and he also managed to score acrobatically on a drive in transition.  But Berry also tended to miss on runners, as he can be inconsistent in making shots.

He did not do a great job of making jumpers in this game, but Berry was able to make a quick three off the catch, and he also used a nifty pump fake to make a long, pull-up two-point shot.  Also, Berry showed off good playmaking skills.  He will make the extra pass to move the basketball, and he also can throw solid interior passes to set up scoring chances for his team.  Plus, he also has very good speed to push the ball up the floor off of defensive rebounds.

He also showed a good ability to get rebounds, as he would leap up to collect defensive boards, sometimes off of tap outs.  Plus, he also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  Berry is an aggressive defender that can poke balls away to get steals, and he will also play passing lanes.  He also did a good job of contesting jumpers to force misses, but sometimes he would struggle to defend drives, as this would lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores on occasion.

In general, Joel Berry played fairly well in his team’s win over Duke.  He is an effective playmaker that can run the point, and he also can get numerous buckets for his team.  Sometimes he can display spotty shot selection as he can be prone to rushing, and he had some trouble making jump shots in this game.  Still, Berry is a smart, skilled playmaker that can help his team in numerous ways, and he could end up being a good pick for an NBA team in the second round range of the upcoming draft.

Duke’s freshman big man, Wendell Carter Jr. had a fairly good showing in his team’s loss to North Carolina.  He did a very good job of making threes off the catch to space the floor for his team, and he shot the ball well from beyond the arc.  He also showed good athleticism, as he ran the floor to catch a lob pass, and he scored on an alley-oop dunk off of a fast break.  But he struggled to score consistently in the post.  He did score once on a jump hook after backing down his man, but he missed two other times, as he would be fading away too much, and he had trouble making jumpers inside the arc.

He also displayed decent playmaking skills.  Carter threw a high entry pass to get an assist, but he also committed a turnover, as he threw an ill-advised entry pass into traffic another time that ended up getting picked off.  However, Carter did not rebound the ball well in this game.  Sometimes the ball would go off of his hands or fingertips, as he would have trouble securing basketballs to come down with boards.  Other times, he would forget to block out, as this lead to his team to allow a put back score once.

He also showed off decent defensive skills.  Carter would contest threes as well as shots around the basket to force misses, and he has the size and strength to hold his ground to force misses when defending in the post.  He also will actively contest shots in the paint, and he was able to block a shot off of a put back to himself once.  However, Carter had a tendency to commit fouls on drives, as he would struggle to move his feet.  Another time he did not communicate on defense, as that lead to a defensive breakdown when defending a screen, as his team allowed a three-point basket that time.

In general, Wendell Carter is an intriguing prospect, as he is a skilled big man that can shoot threes, and he can excel as an interior player on both ends of the floor.  He did not shoot the ball enough in this game though, and he had trouble getting rebounds or defending at various times in this contest however, but he could end up being a solid pick in the mid first round for an NBA team on draft day.

Duke’s 6-5 freshman guard, Gary Trent Jr. also played fairly well, as he excelled as a shooter and scorer when he was on the floor.  He showed a knack for knocking down quick spot-up threes off the catch, as he made one off of a curl, as well as off of pull-up mid-range jumpers.  Plus, he has a good first step to the hoop, as he can effectively score on aggressive drives to the basket, and he also drew a non-shooting foul after driving off of a curl cut.

However, Trent did not show a great nose for the basketball, as he had trouble collecting rebounds for his team.  He did not seem to be very instinctive on the glass as he would tend not to block out, which would lead him to allowing put back scores to opponents, and he also committed a foul as he pushed off once when going for a defensive board.

He also displayed fairly average defensive skills.  Trent would stay with his man on drives, as he can force misses due to possessing good lateral mobility, but he would tend to be late on his rotations, as this would lead him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.  In general, Gary Trent Jr. had a decent game, as he is an athletic, skilled guard that can shoot and score the basketball.  He is a player that could end up filling a microwave type of scorer role at the next level, as he could be a good value pick for a team in the second round range on draft day.

North Carolina’ 6-6 senior guard, Theo Pinson may not have shot the ball particularly well or excelled as a scorer against Duke, but he played well in the other facets of the game that were unrelated to scoring.  Whether if he played well in this game may be in the eye of the beholder, but Pinson did fare well in the non-scoring related categories on this day. 

Though he did not excel as a scorer, he did show a decent ability to score on hustle plays, and on one occurrence, he ran the floor to score on a thunderous dunk off of a fast break, but he would tend to miss shots due to rushing, and he also missed on his lone three-point attempt from beyond the arc.  Pinson did show off fairly good playmaking skills.  He plays like a tall, seasoned point guard as he passes and handles the ball well, and he can throw accurate passes to shooters as well as to his teammates on the break to set up scores for them, but he did end up committing a couple of turnovers, as he committed a charging foul off of a drive, and he also had a ball ripped away from him when driving to the hoop on another occasion.

Pinson exhibited adequate rebounding skills.  He would leap up to haul in boards on both ends of the floor, and he also managed to save a ball to a teammate after blocking a shot to help his team collect a defensive board, but he did end up committing an over the back foul once when going for a defensive board once.  He also played fairly good defense.  Pinson was tasked with guarding Bagley at times, as this was no easy feat, especially since Bagley had a considerable height advantage, but Pinson showed some tenacity when defending him, and in this game, Pinson managed to block a three-point shot, and he would also collect steals due to having quick hands.  He also did a good job of contesting shots on drives to force misses.

However, sometimes he would give up too much space, as this would lead him to allow three-point baskets to his opponents.  He also had a tendency to commit fouls on drives, as he would occasionally struggle to keep up with his man.  Other times, he would be out of position when defending in the post, which would lead him to allow baskets to the opposition.

In general, Theo Pinson did not excel as a scorer, but he did do a good job of facilitating the basketball, rebounding and defending when he was on the court.  Overall, he may be a similar player to that of former NBA veteran guard, Marquis Daniels, and Pinson could end up being a good pick for a team in the second round on draft day.

North Carolina’s 6-4 junior guard, Kenny Williams did a very good job of making threes, particularly off the catch, and he also played good defense.  He managed to block a three-point shot out of bounds, he would intercept passes to get steals for his team, and he also played unselfishly to keep the ball moving on offense.  In summary, Williams is an athletic combo guard that could project to be a 3 and D type of player in the NBA, as he could be a player to keep an eye on in the future.

Duke’s sophomore center, Marques Bolden did a great job of scoring the basketball in this game, as he excelled at scoring in the post due to possessing solid agility, strength, and shooting touch to get scores on the block against North Carolina.  He also managed to throw down a dunk off of a roll, and he also scored on a high post drive.  Plus, Bolden threw a high entry pass to set up a score due to possessing good court vision that time.

He also showed off decent defensive skills, as he would block shots to protect the paint, and he also showed a good ability to defend out on the perimeter to force misses when defending drives, but he also tended to be late on his rotations, as this would lead him to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  In general, Marques Bolden excelled as a scorer, passer, and defender, and he played very well off the bench in his team’s loss to North Carolina.  If he keeps playing well, he could end up being a second round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Duke’s senior guard, Grayson Allen struggled to score efficiently, but he excelled at scoring on drives to the hoop when he would elect to score inside the arc, and he also showed off good passing skills, as he threw a lob pass to set up a score on the break.  But he had trouble knocking down threes consistently, and he also had some trouble on defense as well.  For the positives, Allen would contest threes to force misses, and he also drew a charge when defending a drive.  However, he also would struggle to defend opponents on drives to the hoop, and he also occasionally struggled to defend opponents on jumpers, as he would sometimes be out of position.

In summary, Allen did not play very well as he struggled to make shots consistently, but he did pass the ball well when he was on the floor.  He is a combo guard that can contribute in many ways, but he can be inconsistent as a player when he was on the court.  Still, with his skill set, he could end up being a second round pick in 2018.

North Carolina’s junior forward, Luke Maye showed a knack for scoring on hustle plays, and he also excelled as a passer and rebounder, but he struggled to knock down jumpers consistently, and he exhibited average defensive skills in this game.  He would look to actively contest shots, but he also had trouble defending in the post, as he would allow opponents to get easy catches, and he also had trouble guarding opponents on drives.  Right now, Maye is a high motor player that will compete on both ends of the floor, but he may need to improve significantly to increase his chances to succeed at the next level.  Even so, he could end up being a likely addition to an NBA team’s summer league roster in the future.

Duke’s freshman point guard, Trevon Duval did not play very well in his team’s loss to North Carolina, but he did have some good moments.  He is a very fast, athletic point guard that excels at scoring off the dribble, and he once managed to split a double team to throw down a thunderous dunk.  He can also regularly draw free throws upon the opposition.  However, he struggled to make jumpers when he was on the floor.  In this game, he was generally effective at throwing interior passes to notch assists, but he also tended to get the ball poked away to commit turnovers, and he would also throw careless passes on occasion.

Duval was a defensive liability in this game against North Carolina.  He had a tendency to get beat off the dribble, which would cause his team to commit fouls and allow scores, and Duval tended to commit too many reach-in fouls.  He did not seem to be very disciplined on defense, and he ended up fouling out of this game.  He also did not seem to have great rebounding instincts.  He went over the back to commit a foul when going for an offensive board on one play.  He did dive on the ground to try to get a defensive board, but he ended up getting called for committing a reach-in foul that time.

In general, Trevon Duval did not have a great game, but he is a speedy, athletic playmaker that can score on quick drives to the hoop.  Right now, he has a game that may loosely resemble that of current NBA player and Sacramento Kings’ rookie point guard, De’Aaron Fox, except Duval has worse shot selection, is prone to more wild streaks, and is nowhere the defender that Fox was.  Right now, Duval will need to play a smarter brand of basketball in games, but his athleticism and potential to succeed at the next level could make him a likely pick somewhere in the mid to late first round range if he decides to declare to enter the NBA draft this year.