When you select at the top of the NBA draft, the idea is to land a franchise-altering player. Time will tell if Marvin Bagley III can do that for the Kings, but the early returns are good.
Then-coach Dave Joerger chose to take a cautious approach to Bagley’s development, bringing the 20-year-old power forward off the bench for most of the season. That approach rustled some feathers behind the scenes, and might have played into Joerger’s eventual firing.
The plan for year two is for Bagley to step into the starting lineup, where he could stick for the next decade. He has springs in his legs, an advanced offensive game and plenty of room for growth.
Stats (per game): 14.9 points, 1.0 assists, 7.6 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 50.4% FG, 31.3% 3PT, 25.3 min
Bagley is a budding offensive star. As a rookie, he scored 21 points and hauled in 11 rebounds per 36 minutes. Two knee injuries cost him 20 games on the season, and the team’s cautious approach to his recovery limited his minutes even further.
At 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, Bagley has the size and length to get to a spot on the floor and the athleticism to rise over almost any player in the league. He shot 69.1 percent at the rim, and 43.4 percent inside of 10 feet.
He can hit a perimeter jumper and his range will likely extend out behind the arc as he becomes more comfortable in the NBA. He shot 31.2 percent from 3-point range and took 96 attempts on the season.
Bagley continues to heavily favor his left hand in the post, but that didn't stop him in his first year in the pros. He averaged an impressive 4.2 free throw attempts per game as a rookie, but he needs to hit more than 69.1 percent of them next season.
There is so much to like about his offensive game, although he needs to improve his decision-making and move the ball to his teammates more often. Bagley tallied just 62 assists in 62 games on the season.
On top of his ability to finish around the rim and draw fouls, Bagley has one of the quickest second jumps in the game. It helped him grab an impressive 2.6 offensive rebounds per game, which should increase as he gets stronger and earns more court time.
Bagley made strides on the defensive end as the season progressed. He posted 1.4 blocks and 7.1 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes. Both of those numbers can improve over time.
He has the length and athleticism to defend both the four and the five. Bagley's opponents shot 1.4 percent worse from the field when he guarded them compared to their overall field-goal percentage, and 3.2 percent worse from inside six feet.
The rookie struggled to defend the 3-point shots, however, as his opponents were 2.8 percent better from long range. But, that really isn’t bad for a rookie big playing against elite competition.
The red flags on Bagley coming out of Duke were on the defensive end. While he has plenty of potential and his man-to-man defense was better than expected, he needs a lot of work as a team defender.
There were plenty of times where he was slow to rotate or out of position completely on the defensive end. These are young-player issues. The talent is there, but he needs to spend time in the film room sifting through the many schemes he will face in the coming season.
The plan was always to bring Bagley along slowly and eventually ramp him up, but the pair of injuries to his left knee put a hitch in that plan and almost served as breaks in the season. Just as he started to get the ball rolling, he missed time.
Bagley has All-Star potential and maybe more than that. He needs to come back stronger in year two, as well as work on his right hand and his shooting range. Time watching film is a must, as is building chemistry with his teammates on and off the floor.
General manager Vlade Divac and his staff might not have gone with the most popular pick, but they might have chosen the right one for the direction their franchise -- and the league -- are heading. Bagley runs like a gazelle, has incredible leaping ability and is a perfect long-term fit alongside speedster De’Aaron Fox.
It would be shocking if Bagley didn’t take a tremendous leap forward in his sophomore season, although new head coach Luke Walton has never had a player quite like the young Kings big. Bagley has the look of a perennial 20-point, 10-rebound player, and his potential is almost limitless.