Is Marvin Bagley III more valuable than a second-round pick?

Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (35) pushes the ball up the court during the fourth quarter against Detroit Pistons Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (35) pushes the ball up the court during the fourth quarter against Detroit Pistons Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons took a flyer on Marvin Bagley III, giving up two players who weren’t part of the future and two second-round picks.

Some fans were upset that I said the Pistons “gave up next to nothing” for Bagley III, as they contend that second-round picks have value.

They are correct, though second-round picks are not hard to come by and the Pistons could certainly re-fill their stockpile by trading Cory Joseph in the offseason.

There is also a chance one of those second-round picks could become a good player, as we can look around the league and see guys who were drafted later making an impact.

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But I still think Bagley III was worth taking a flyer on, even if it meant giving up some second-round picks.

Second-round picks rarely pan out

Yes, we can name guys like Nikola Jokic and Draymond Green who were second-round picks that became stars, but they are definitely the exception to the rule.

According to a study done by a sports analytics group at UC Berkley, around 20 percent of 2nd-round picks are still in the league after five years.

So teams have roughly a 1-in-5 chance of drafting a guy in the 2nd round who will even stick in the league and most of these players are not stars.

So is there better than a 20 percent chance that Marvin Bagley III is in the league in a year? I think there is.

Marvin Bagley III’s age and salary for the Detroit Pistons

Marvin Bagley III is only 22-years-old, which is pretty close to the average draft age of a second-round pick.

He is only a few months older than Saben Lee and he’s younger than Luka Garza, Jamorko Pickett and Isaiah Livers, so it’s not like he doesn’t have room to improve. I don’t see why fans are so high on some of these guys (particularly Garza) but think Bagley III has no chance to improve even though he’s younger and has already shown he can be an NBA rotation player.

Even if Bagley III plays well for the Pistons, he is going to be taking a significant pay cut on his next contract until he proves he can be a consistent impact player.

That means the Pistons can likely sign him to a deal in the 2 years/$10 million range, or roughly what a good second-round pick would get on their second contract. The Pistons will get a potential first-round talent on a second-round salary, which is good value.

Would Marvin Bagley III be a second-round pick in this draft?

This particular NBA Draft is not projected to be very deep, so if Bagley III were in it, he’d probably go in the first round.

Not all years are created equally, so the last question to ask is whether Bagley III is a better prospect than anyone in this draft’s second round.

The answer is probably yes, so the Pistons are rolling the dice that a guy who has already averaged 14 points and 7+ rebounds on an NBA team has more potential than a second-round pick who may not even make an NBA roster.

I understand that second-round picks are not “nothing” but neither is Marvin Bagley III, who is still very young, has more talent than most second-round picks and will be on a value contract.

I chalk this up to a win for the Detroit Pistons, who are trying to use creative means to acquire impact talent.

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