The Marvin Bagley experience in Sacramento hasn’t gone as planned. The Kings gambled with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on the talented big man out of Duke, and to date the results haven’t been what anyone would have hoped for.
Bagley made it through a good portion of the season without a setback, but a broken bone in his left hand cost him six weeks of action and he finished the year on the injury list with a groin problem.
The Kings are coming to an impasse with the 22-year-old. He’s under contract for one more season in Sacramento, but the rash of setbacks have his value at an all-time low. Will they run it back one more time and give him the opportunity to live up to his potential or have we seen the last of Bagley in a Kings uniform?
Here is a breakdown of some of the pluses and minuses of Bagley’s season and how he grades out in his third NBA campaign.
20-21 Stats: 14.1 points, 1.0 assists, 7.4 rebounds, .5 blocks, 50.4% FG, 34.3% 3pt
19-20 Stats: 14.2 points, .8 assists, 7.5 rebounds, .9 blocks, 46.7% FG, 18.2% 3pt
That grinding noise you hear is Bagley trying to get his career out of neutral and into gear. While there have been some overall improvements in efficiency, Bagey, mostly due to time missed, is the same player he was coming into the league.
His minutes have remained virtually the same, as has his scoring, rebounding and assist numbers. Therein lies the problem. Big men take longer to develop, but Bagley’s inability to stay on the floor has forced the Kings to start over each year with the former No. 2 overall pick.
Bagley is an effective scorer at the rim and he has improved in this area each year. He shot 73.1 percent overall inside of 3 feet and he has a variety of moves to work with. Forty percent of his shot attempts in the paint area were unassisted, compared to fellow big man Richaun Holmes, who was assisted on 72.4 percent of his shots at the rim this season.
Bagley has developed as a back-to-the-basket scorer, especially going to his left. He also showed flashes of his incredible leaping ability late in the season, which allowed him to go up and over his opponent.
Bagley isn’t a great lob man in the pick-and-roll, but he’s strong off the dribble and has plenty of potential for improvement in the two-man game. He also has elite speed for a big and can get out on the break with ease.
During his lone season at Duke, Bagley showed an ability to shoot the 3-ball, which is one of the reasons he went so high in the 2018 NBA Draft. He shot a solid 34.3 percent from long range this season, including a stellar 48.4 percent from the left corner. From the right corner he managed to hit on just 26.7 percent of his 3-point attempts and he knocked down 29 percent from above the break on 62 of his 108 total attempts.
He has worked on refining his perimeter shot, but he needs more reps in live game action to truly take the next step as a stretch four/five.
Bagley isn’t a passer. His 5.8 assist percentage is the lowest of any of the Kings’ regulars outside of Hassan Whiteside and he finished with exactly 43 assists in 43 games this season. The Kings don’t ask him to facilitate the offense, but there are times when he forces the action on the offensive end and he becomes predictable and easy to double-team.
Bagley’s defensive acumen was a major question coming out of college and his inability to stay on the court has hurt his development on this side of the ball. There are some signs of improvement, but the overall production is less than stellar.
In his third NBA season, Bagley improved defending the 3-point shot. He struggled on the perimeter in his first two years, but this season he held his opponent to 36 percent from deep, just a little under their average. Everywhere else on the court, Bagley needs to improve.
Inside of 10 feet, Bagley allowed his opponent to shoot 6.2 percent higher than their season average. Inside of six feet, his opponents knocked down 67.2 percent, a 5.6 percent increase over their season average.
A lot of Bagley’s defensive struggles boil down to a lack of experience. He was slow in rotations, out of position on plenty of possessions and there were times where he got pushed around in the post. But it wasn’t all bad.
When Bagley played an opponent a second or even third time, he showed improvement and an ability to make adjustments. The question is whether the Kings can wait for him to continue to take small steps forward.
On the season, Bagley posted an offensive rating of 112.8 and a defensive rating of 116.5. His net rating differential of minus-3.7 wasn’t the worst on the team, but it’s still well below where you would like to see his performance.
Bagley’s steal percentage has remained stagnant throughout his three seasons at around 0.9 percent. His block percentage has gone from 3.2 percent during his rookie year to just 1.6 percent this season.
Like many of his stats, Bagley’s rebounding percentages have remained static through his first three seasons, as have his per 36 numbers. He’s a solid rebounder, but he’s not the double-double machine that many believed he would be coming into the league.
Bagley needed to show that he could stay healthy this season. That didn’t happen.
Call it bad luck. Call it unfortunate. Call it whatever you want. The reality is that Bagley played 43 out of a potential 72 games and has now missed 48 percent of potential games during his three seasons in the NBA.
It’s too early to truly make a judgement call on who Bagley can be as a player, which is both a blessing and a curse for Sacramento. He’s owed $11.3 million next season and is eligible for an extension this summer. The Kings have a difficult decision to make.
In a perfect world, they would have another season to see if Bagley can stay healthy for an 82-game season and develop into a reliable rotational player. But with major commitments already in place to Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes, as well as De’Aaron Fox’s salary jumping from $8.1 million to $28.1 million next season, every move has a corresponding impact on the remainder of the roster.
Can the Kings keep both Bagley and Richaun Holmes? Can they fill out a competitive squad without trading away at least one of their big-dollar contracts? Does Bagley have value as a high-risk, high-reward player to a team looking to add young talent?
There are more questions than answers when it comes to Bagley and his standing with the Kings. He’s a talent, but his inability to stay on the court and progress as a player is a major problem for everyone involved.