Editor's note: This is the fifth installment of NBC Sports California's "20 questions facing Kings" series that will look into pressing matters for the team once the NBA returns.

Marvin Bagley is the forgotten man in Sacramento. Injuries have limited the 21-year-old big man to just 13 games this season, and head coach Luke Walton has found ways to fill his minutes on the court.

During a conference call with media members last week, Walton skirted around the subject of Bagley’s health and what that might mean if the season restarts in the near future.

“In talking to Marvin, he feels much better and he’s been asking for film clips, we’ve been sending him videos to study, and he’s excited about playing ball again,” Walton said.
 
When pressed on Bagley later in the conversations, Walton was non-committal on whether Bagley would be part of the plan this season if the NBA resumes play.

“No, I mean, look, there’s stages he’d have to go through,” Walton said. “Just like if we were in a normal part of the season. We’d have to get him out there to do some 3-on-3 and some 5-on-5 and all that first. And then again, that would come down to the medical staff and him, and then I’d get that information.”

It’s an unfortunate situation for Bagley. He broke his right thumb in the season opener and missed 22 games. When he returned to the court, he injured his left foot eight games in, which forced him to missed another eight games.

 

Bagley made it back to the court in early January, but had a setback four games later and missed the final 21 games before the coronavirus shutdown.

It’s one thing if Bagley missed major time with a single injury, but the fits and starts have hampered his development. When he has been on the court, Walton has used him primarily as a rim running center, not at the four. Where does he fit long term?

Nuts and Bolts

Bagley has a lot riding on next season. He’ll enter the third year of his rookie-scale contract, meaning that he’ll be eligible for an extension in the summer of 2021. 

What will that extension look like? Will an offer even come? Or will Bagley have to head into his fourth year without a contract?

Despite the injuries, the Kings are still all in on Bagley. They considered him a building block of the franchise. 

He’ll have to show that he can stay on the court if he hopes to get money equal to his talent in his second NBA contract. If he can’t stay healthy, it severely changes the Kings’ salary situation moving forward.

[RELATED: Kings 20 questions: Has Kent Bazemore found a home in Sacramento?]

Is Bagley a center?

When the Kings drafted Bagley with the No. 2 overall selection, the plan was for him to lock down the power forward position for the next decade or more. There was even talk of Bagley playing some small forward.

At this point, the three are completely off the table and Bagley looks more like a center than he does anything else. That may create a big problem for the Kings.

Richaun Holmes, Harry Giles and Alex Len are the Kings’ three-headed hydra at the five. Each of them brings a specific skill set that benefits the rest of the roster.

Holmes is the energy guy, defensive stalwart and pick-and-roll specialist. Giles brings moxie and can run the high post offense due to his passing skills. Len is a giant that protects the rim, sets picks and has no trouble getting physical.

Bagley’s advanced offensive game and ability to rebound would fit in with this trio, but you can’t really play four guys 12 minutes a game. 

Whether it’s a permanent fit or not, Bagley will play a lot of small ball center during his career moving forward. Both Giles and Len are unrestricted free agents after this season, so there might be plenty of minutes for Bagley in the future.

Is Bagley a power forward?

When healthy, the Kings don’t have a better back to the basket scorer than Bagley, but the modern-day four has to do more.

Nemanja Bjelica has played well in Bagley’s absence for a second straight season. His ability to knock down the 3-ball spaces the floor and opens up running lanes for De’Aaron Fox.

 

Walton has turned to Harrison Barnes to fill time at the power spot as well. Like Bjelica, Barnes can knock down the triple and he has an ability to switch on defense to guard either forward position. 

The common theme is perimeter shooting and versatility, which Bagley has yet to master. A 39.7 percent shooter from long range in college, Bagley has a solid stroke. He even shot 31.3 percent from 3-point land in his rookie season. 

Looking at any perimeter numbers this season is a waste of time. Not only has Bagley missed substantial time, but his longest stretch of games lasted a total of eight. 

With an offseason to work on his game and understanding of Walton’s system, there is a chance that Bagley can move back to the four, but with the uncertainty of the league’s return and the potential that next season will be impacted as well, this situation could get more complicated.

[RELATED: Kings 20 Questions: Is Richaun Holmes Sacramento's long-term center?]

Can Holmes and Bagley play together?

This is also a complicated question. There are decades of footage showing how to play two bigs together, but in the modern NBA, it’s tough to put two conventional post players on the floor at the same time. 

There is no question that the energy on the court would be electric. Both players can rebound, block shots and play hard. 

They are also switchable, although only Holmes has proven he can defend both inside and out, where Bagley is just learning.

The problem is twofold. First, the Kings need one of these guys to stretch the floor, which we already went over. Secondly, neither of these players have shown an ability to create for others.

Through 39 games, Holmes posted an assist percentage of 5.4 with a career average of 8.1. Bagley’s was worse at five even. These are two of the lowest assist percentages on the team. 

When you match that with Harrison Barnes’ 9.9 percent, which is low for a starting three, you begin to see a trend forming. 

Holmes is a traditional pick-and-roll big. All of his shots come in the flow of the offense or off of hustle points. Walton can rely on Bagley to get buckets in the post, but he needs to improve when the double team comes and also show that he can help create from the high post. 

Bagley is only 21 and can develop some of these skills, but it has to come quickly or teams will just pack the paint and make life extremely difficult.

Prediction

Bagley can move back to power forward long term, but he has to expand his game both as a shooter and a passer. That might take time.

If and when the NBA season resumes, Walton will likely focus on the rotation he had established before the shutdown. That means Bagley will have to watch.

 

If the Kings fall out of postseason contention, there is a chance that Bagley jumps back in, but Walton knows what was working and he had a five-man big rotation that had found a rhythm. 

[RELATED: How Walton continues developing players in lockdown]

The 2020-21 season is where Bagley needs to come back completely healthy, in the best shape of his life and ready to compete. If he does that and has a little bit of luck on the injury front, the Kings have another building block. 

If Bagley struggles to stay healthy again? The Kings need to start looking at what’s in the best interest of the franchise moving forward.