Bagley can prove value to Kings with Holmes out again


Richaun Holmes once again is set to be sidelined for multiple games, and Marvin Bagley III has another opportunity to demonstrate his value to the Kings' rotation.

Holmes will miss at least the Kings' next two games after a procedure to repair a scary right eye laceration. It is the second time in the past month that Holmes has dealt with an injury to his right eye.

The big man missed three games in late November due to an eye contusion and a non-COVID illness.

Over those three contests against the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies respectively, Bagley averaged 24.1 minutes, putting up 9.3 points and 6.3 rebounds as the Kings went 2-1.

Bagley already had been a much larger part of the rotation since Luke Walton was relieved of his duties and Alvin Gentry took over as interim head coach.

The embattled forward has had a number of off-court distractions with the organization during his four years in Sacramento, but appears to be in a much better place of late.

"I’m just playing basketball, man,” Bagley said. “I’m comfortable out there just playing the game, just having fun, just enjoying the game of basketball. That’s [been] my main thing ever since I started playing: The love and the joy and not letting things or people take that joy from me. That’s always been my thing.

“To kind of be out there again and playing and smiling and helping my teammates and cheering my teammates on, that’s what it’s all about for me -- everything else will come. That’s how I’ve always played the game and that’s how I will continue to play the game."

RELATED: Bagley gets fresh start with Gentry as Kings' interim coach

Bagley's usage rate is down nearly eight percent over last season, and yet the forward has by far his best offensive rating of his career so far. Bagley's rebounding numbers also have ramped up, as his 11.9 per 36 minutes are a full rebound better than his career-high.

Among Kings players who have seen more than 100 minutes of action this season, Bagley has the best plus-minus per 100 possessions on the team.

The former No. 2 overall pick has learned to play more within the offense and not dominate the ball on possessions, and has not made any headlines on or off the court since he reportedly refused to check into a blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns in garbage time.

Alex Len previously took Holmes' spot in the starting lineup, so it would not be a surprise to see the veteran once again beginning the game at the five. Expect to see plenty of Bagley on the floor, especially on Friday night against a severely undermanned Charlotte Hornets team dealing with a number of players in COVID-19 health and safety protocol.

Bagley has gotten a second chance in the rotation with Gentry now in charge, and he has a tremendous opportunity over the Kings' next few games at least to demonstrate just how valuable he can be to the organization.