DALLAS -- Dave Joerger said what? During his pregame interview in Dallas, Sacramento’s head coach made a bold proclamation that quickly made its way around the world of social media.
“I’ve got the Rookie of the Year on my roster,” Joerger told the assembly of reporters at American Airlines Center. “Just try to get him better every single day. His level of talent pushes coaches to make sure we’re on point and challenging him every day. He’s just been a joy to coach.”
Coach Joerger says the Kings have the Rookie of the Year 🏆 pic.twitter.com/8wX4vrKoRs— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) March 26, 2019
When asked to clarify, Joerger didn’t back off the claim. In fact, he doubled down.
“That’s what I said. I have the Rookie of the Year ... on my roster,” Joerger said.
It’s unlikely that Bagley comes away with the hardware, although his team has clearly made the largest jump this season where it matters. With nine games remaining, the Kings are 36-37, showing a nine-game improvement over last season’s 27-win season.
Luka Doncic has helped the Mavericks win an additional five games coming into Tuesday’s matchup with Sacramento. Trae Young’s Hawks have won two more games than last season with eight games remaining.
Outside of win totals, the raw numbers heavily favor Doncic. The phenom out of Slovenia is posting 21.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 32.2 minutes per game for Dallas.
Young has put on a show in the post-All-Star break schedule, but it’s unlikely to be enough to overtake Doncic. Young is averaging 18.7 points and 7.9 assists on just over 30 minutes per game.
Bagley’s season has been marred by two injuries that slowed his momentum. He’s finishing the season strong, averaging 20.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in the month of March. On the season, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft is scoring 14.7 points to go with 7.1 rebounds and a block in 25 minutes per game.
The top five picks in the 2018 draft are all having strong rookie seasons, but Doncic’s numbers are too gaudy to ignore. That doesn’t mean he’ll be the best player in a year or two, but as far as the Rookie of the Year trophy goes, it would be a shocker if it went to anyone else.