Kings

Kings Under Review: Marvin Bagley takes game to new heights against Suns

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USATI

Kings Under Review: Marvin Bagley takes game to new heights against Suns

SACRAMENTO -- Taking care of business. The Sacramento Kings finished their season-long six-game homestand Sunday evening with another victory to finish the block at 5-1.

Led by the hot shooting of Devin Booker and a late surge from rookie Deandre Ayton, the Suns made it interesting in the fourth. Sacramento rode a career night from rookie Marvin Bagley and received solid contributions up and down the roster to pull out the 117-104 win.

The victory pushed the Kings four games over the .500 mark at 30-26 with just one game remaining before the All-Star break. Here are the positives and the negatives from the win.

POSITIVE

The Breakout

Taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Bagley has been waiting for his moment to shine. Maybe he was just waiting for his first official game against the Suns, the team that passed on him and selected Ayton No. 1 overall.

The 19-year-old big went to work early and often against Phoenix. He hit his jumper, took players off the dribble and ran the floor like a gazelle.

In 32 minutes of action, Sacramento's prized rookie posted a career-high 32 points on 10-of-15 from the field and 11-for-13 from the line. He added seven rebounds, as well as an assist, block and steal in the Kings' win.

Bagley adds a different element to the Kings lineup and his teammates did an excellent job of feeding the 6-foot-11 inch leaper.

POSITIVE

Speed Kills

De'Aaron Fox loves to run. Against the Suns, he turned on the jets and opened up the entire game for both himself and his teammates.

The Suns countered his attack by trying to isolate him against Devin Booker on the defensive end. Initially, it worked with Fox getting in early foul trouble, but the Kings' starter made adjustments.

Fox stuffed the stat sheet, finishing the night with 17 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and two steals. Although he's cooled off slightly from his hot start early season, the 21-year-old guard continues to drive the Kings pace of play.

POSITIVE

Blockentstein

When the Kings drafted Willie Cauley-Stein with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, it was with the understanding that he had the ability to defend the rim.

In his fourth NBA season, he's gotten away from being a shot blocker, but over the last two games, he's made an adjustment.

After not blocking a shot in five straight and eight of his previous nine contests, Cauley-Stein has eight over his last two games, including a five against the Suns. The fourth-year big added 10 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes of action.

Sacramento could really use someone to play goalie. If it's not Cauley-Stein, the team will need to look for a different answer during the offseason

NEGATIVE

Hanging Around

Sacramento led wire-to-wire, including a 25-point advantage in the third quarter and a 20-point lead with seven minutes remaining in the fourth.

While the game was never in doubt, the Kings also never truly put the Suns away. Phoenix pulled to within 12 on multiple occasions in the fourth and Dave Joerger was forced to leave most of his first unit on the floor.

[RELATED: Vlade Divac's growth into GM job has Kings heading in right direction]

The Kings came into the night 9.5 point favorites and they won by 13. It was their fifth win in six chances on the homestand and they're just a half game out of the eighth spot.

Saying all of that, the game could have gone a different way against a better team. Sacramento needs to find a killer instinct and learn to put teams away completely.

Marvin Bagley continues to showcase star potential in win vs. Mavs

Marvin Bagley continues to showcase star potential in win vs. Mavs

SACRAMENTO -- The Marvin Bagley III era of Sacramento Kings basketball is upon us. He can hit you with a spin move, rise over you for a half hook and on Thursday evening at Golden 1 Center, he starting dropping in 3-pointers.

At 20-years-old, there is no telling where the ceiling is for the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. Since returning from injury, five games ago, he’s been on fire, despite dealing with a minutes restriction.

“It was just a matter of time before I was able to show out and just go out and play,” a confident Bagley said following the Kings’ 116-100 victory. “Play without thinking and just play basketball. Whenever I’m playing like that I just play free and I’m not worried about mistakes.”

For the third straight game, the former Duke star posted 20 points or more for Sacramento, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting. He added 12 rebounds four the 14th double-double of his rookie campaign and blocked four shots as well.

Suiting up for the first time against fellow rookie, Luka Doncic, Bagley looked fresh and ready for the challenge. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, Doncic looked every bit the part of a rookie who has had to carry the scoring load for his team all season. The Slovenian-born guard finished the night with just 13 points on 4-of-19 shooting to go with 10 rebounds.

Following the game, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle raved about the Kings’ rookie.

“Bagley is terrific,” Carlisle told reporters following the game. “He’s much improved. Shooting the three consistently, so he’s a big problem.”

While Bagley knocked down the 3-ball at the college level, it was in limited attempts. Since joining the Kings, he’s taken a cautious approach when it comes to hoisting from the perimeter, shooting just 69 3-pointers through his first 51 games.

Tuesday against the Nets, Bagley shot and made two 3-pointers. On Thursday versus the Mavs, he looked confident in his five attempts, hitting a career-best three makes from behind the arc.

“It’s just a progression,” coach Dave Joerger said. “I’ve never told him not to, I’ve asked him that I prefer if the ball comes from inside the line where you’re getting your momentum going forward.”

For Bagley to take the next step in his progression and move into the starting lineup, the Kings need him to at least be a threat from the perimeter. If opposing defenses have to stay with him behind the 3-point line, it keeps the lanes open for De’Aaron Fox to attack the rim.

“He’s a special talent, man,” Buddy Hield said. “Sometime you don’t even run a play for him. He just gets our misses and puts it back in. That’s what comes with a special talent. He’s just going to keep growing and getting better. He’s still not to his potential.”

[RELATED: What we learned from Kings' win over Mavs]

In 10 games since the All-Star break, Bagley is averaging 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds in 27 minutes per game. He’s quickly living up to the hype and showing improvement at almost every step.

With just 11 games remaining in the season, Bagley would like to end on a high note. The Kings need him to continue to develop his perimeter skills during his first real offseason and build some up his strength for the grueling 82 game NBA schedule.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from bounce-back win over Mavericks

Kings takeaways: What we learned from bounce-back win over Mavericks

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- Needing a win to move on from Tuesday’s epic collapse against the Nets, the Kings played with pace, shared the ball and hit their shots Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks.

Buddy Hield hit his shots, De’Aaron Fox put on the jets and both Marvin Bagley and Willie Cauley-Stein posted doubles to help push the Kings to a 116-100 victory.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings moves within a game of .500 at 35-36 on the season.

Bagley vs. Doncic

The Kings took a beating in the national media when they selected Bagley with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. The rookie big continues to show why he was worthy of the pick.

The 20-year-old power forward struggled with his shot at times, but still managed to notch 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and four blocks. He was active on both ends of the floor and made a tremendous impact on the outcome of the game.

Luka Doncic was the player many thought the Kings would select at two. When the Kings passed, Dallas moved up to select the talented guard out of Slovenia. Doncic struggled with his shot, shooting just 4-of-19 from the field to finish with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

While they didn’t match up against each other often, both look like top-level young players.

Returning to form

After failing to break the 20 point mark in three straight games and posting just eight in the Kings’ loss to the Nets on Tuesday, Hield woke up against Dallas.

Sacramento’s leading scorer hit 7-of-13 from long range to finish the night with a team-high 29 points.

Hield is the barometer for this team. When he plays well, the Kings are tough to beat.

Revenge game

Justin Jackson played rotational minutes throughout the first half of the season with the Kings before heading to the Mavericks with Zach Randolph in exchange for Harrison Barnes at the trade deadline.

He returned to his old stomping grounds Thursday evening and looked pumped up against his former team. The 23-year-old wing was active and hit his shots, scoring 19 points on 9-for-16 shooting for Dallas in 32 minutes of action.