Bold Prediction: Mackenzie Mgbako will be a 2025 NBA Draft Lottery Pick

Mackenzie Mgbako and Mike Woodson, Indiana Men's Basketball
Mackenzie Mgbako and Mike Woodson, Indiana Men's Basketball / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY

Patience is and always has been a virtue, and in the game of basketball it is always essential to give freshman players a fair chance to adapt to the changing landscape of competition. Early on in the 2023-2024 NCAA season, former McDonald's All-American Mackenzie Mgbako was receiving a ton of harsh criticism while he was still in the midst of his acclimation phase.

Sure his first 5 games may have been a nightmare (5.0 PPG on 32% shooting from the floor and 8.3% shooting from deep), but a freshman struggling at the onset of their collegiate career is almost like their initiation into the NCAA. By the end of the season last year, the same critics who were hurling negativity on Mgbako's name earlier in the year were silenced.

Now, we believe Mgbako should be ready to take the next step in his validation as an elite hooper by earning himself a lottery selection in next year's 2025 NBA draft.

Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana Men's Basketball
Mackenzie Mgbako, Indiana Men's Basketball / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY

With a 6'8", 220 pound frame and a 6'10" wingspan, Mackenzie Mgbako has the physique of a traditional NBA swingman. Combine that with the fact that he is widely regarded for his ability to hit outside shots (which he did on a highly streaky basis last season), and with some progression as a wing defender Mgbako could rationally blossom into an extremely effective 3&D guy in the modern NBA.

Before the start of the 2023-2024 season, many had him pegged as a prospective 1st round pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA draft on June 26th. After he started to find his groove towards the tail end of the season, there was heavy uncertainty regarding whether he would depart from Indiana (via either the draft or transfer portal). Now, he is back in Bloomington and seems primed for a monster sophomore season.

His shooting inefficiencies may trickle over from last season being that his usage is expected to rise considerably, but count on most/all of his counting stats to see an uptick in 2024-2025. And after he shows up and shows out in the upcoming campaign, bank on hearing Mackenzie Mgbako's name called somewhere within the first 14 selections of the 2025 NBA draft.

Keep going, Mackenzie!