Class of 2018: Marvin Bagley III vs. Zion Williamson

Marvin Bagley III
Photo by: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports

Zion Williamson seems to be the hottest name for the Class of 2018. With all of the media coverage and attention, why isn’t he ranked no. 1 for the class of ’18? One name, Marvin Bagley III.

Marvin is a 6’10”, 220lbs forward who has the skills of a guard. He seems to be gaining more national attention with his recent Drew League performance, scoring 32 points with 11 rebounds. This fluid lefty is a name the basketball world needs to become accustomed to for the future. He is the perfect example of how the game of basketball is revolutionizing. At 6’10” he is capable of going coast to coast full length of the court to score or set up a teammate. This kid is the definition of versatile.

With these two future stars neck and neck in the 2018 rankings, let’s break down and compare their games.

Physically: Zion is 3-4 inches shorter than Marvin, but still weighs 10lbs heavier. Zion’s body is built for the NBA today. He has the possibility of chiseling his body up as time goes on as well. His physical stature will allow him to get into the paint easier than Marvin. Marvin does, however, have the longer wingspan allowing him to get floaters and baby hook shots off in the paint without many players being able to fully contest it. They are both supreme athletes where neither come out with a clear advantage. I’d like to see Marvin put on 15-20lbs by the time his name is called in the NBA Draft.

Offensively: Even with being 6’10”-6’11”, I’ll say Marvin has the better jump shot at this point. He has a fluid stroke and seems to have more touch than Zion. Zion isn’t far behind with his jump shot, but Marvin’s 3 point shot seems more likely to translate to NBA range. Marvin also wins when it comes to their post up games. Marvin even seems to favor the one footed “Dirk Nowitzki shot” when posting up in no man’s land. With naturally playing more power forward this shouldn’t be surprising that Marvin wins in this area. However, Zion has plenty of time to be able to learn how to utilize his physical frame down low.

Zion seems to have the better first step. What I mean by this is he has the most explosive first step. When Zion blows by his defenders even if they are in good defensive position, they can’t contend with the 17-year-old’s 230lbs frame. Both attack the rim well, but Zion wins this one. Zion tends to lean on his athleticism more when attacking the rim. He also seems to absorb contact better than Marvin at this point. I believe Zion is the better playmaker at this point and more upside than Marvin as their basketball careers go on. Marvin has the face-up game that reminds me of a young Chris Bosh at Georgia Tech. Overall I will have to give the edge to Marvin Bagley III. He has proven he can score on a more competitive level than Zion has to me at this point.

Defensively: If you’re running a man-to-man based defense, I would take Zion. Zion’s athleticism will allow him to stay in front of many different positions. He also has the frame to be able to hold his own down low with power forwards. I feel strongly about my beliefs in Zion’s defensive potential. I think he can make himself known as a “two-way player” when it comes time for the NBA. Now if you’re running a zone based defense, my choice would be Marvin Bagley III.

Marvin already seems to display a fantastic help side presence. He seems to have a good knack for weak side blocks. This is a skill that will allow him to be a good shot blocker as he moves up from level to level. His length paired with his athleticism would have a coach like Jim Boeheim salivating when it comes to running a 2-3 zone. His frame does worry me a bit when it comes to being able to bang down low and play the majority of his minutes at power forward. Overall I believe Zion wins on defense. This is the area of their games I will be interested in seeing how they progress.

After breaking their games down, if you asked me on who my no. 1 is for the Class of ’18, I’d say Marvin Bagley III. Marvin has proven his skills on a higher level at this point than Zion in my opinion. He has dominated the EYBL Nike AAU circuit leading it in scoring with 26.9 points per game while also averaging 14.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He also has been competing at a high level in the Drew League this summer. I love to see when unproven young guys are hungry enough to take their talent to the next level. It will be interesting to see how Marvin and Zion’s senior years shape up. We at Basketball Society will keep an eye on how this dynamic evolves.


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