Kings

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' De'Aaron Fox expects to play Tuesday, hopes to provide spark

Kings' De'Aaron Fox expects to play Tuesday, hopes to provide spark

The wait is almost over. De’Aaron Fox is nearing a return to the court after a 17-game hiatus. His sprained left ankle is feeling much better and according to the Kings' starting point guard, he intends to suit Tuesday night in Charlotte when Sacramento faces the Hornets.

Head coach Luke Walton confirmed to NBC Sports California that barring a setback, the plan is to get Fox on the court against the Hornets.

Fox, who was averaging 18.2 points and seven assists per game before rolling his ankle at practice on Nov. 11, is itching to get back on the court. He’s worked tirelessly and has taken the opportunity to watch plenty of film with the hopes of jump starting the team when he returns.

“I feel my presence is missed in a few areas and I just want to come and plug up those areas and just make us a better team when I step back on the floor,” Fox told NBC Sports California. 

The Kings are 9-8 since Fox went down and at 12-14, they are in sole possession of seventh place in the Western Conference standings. 

With Fox out, head coach Luke Walton has tightened his rotation. He’s only played eight or nine players in each of the last four games, but that will have to expand with Fox’s imminent return.

“I’m extremely excited, we’ve seen what we can do with a shortened roster and with us getting our full roster back, we feel like the sky’s the limit,” Fox said. “There are a lot of things that we feel we need to tighten up on, especially with getting leads and losing games. As a team, we have to figure out how to put teams away.”

Cory Joseph has moved into the starting lineup in Fox’s absence and played well for Walton. While he’s not the offensive weapon that Fox is, Joseph is a steady hand and the best perimeter defender on the Kings’ roster.

“He’s a huge part of our organization, everybody knows that, so we’re happy to get him back,” Joseph told NBC Sports California. “He looks good. He’s running good. So we’re excited. He’s huge to what we do here.”

In addition to Joseph, reserve guard Yogi Ferrell has stepped in and played solid minutes for the Kings as well. Known as a spark plug off the bench, there have been nights when his ability to get easy buckets has helped the Kings win games.

“We can’t just overlook the job that guy’s like Yogi’s done for us,” Joseph added. “Me and him have tried to do our best with him out and we’re all happy to get him back, but Yogi’s done an amazing job being a professional.”

Fox isn’t the only player to miss major time for Sacramento. Marvin Bagley returned to the court three games ago after missing 22 straight with a broken right thumb. Without two of their primary scorers, Walton has chosen to slow down the offense. That is likely to change.

Sacramento led the NBA in pace for most of last season before finishing fifth overall. With both Fox and Bagley on the shelf, they are 30th this season.

[RELATED: Takeaways from Kings' win over Warriors]

“I feel like I can ramp up any team’s pace with the way I play the game,” Fox said. “I think the pace will pick back up when I step on the floor, but with most teams, it’s about taking the ball out of bounds quicker, the point guard passing the ball up the floor quicker.”

There will be an adjustment period for the team as they try to work two major pieces back into then rotation. They will have nights where the newness is too much to overcome, but in the long run, this is the group that the Kings are banking on to turn the franchise around.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 100-79 runaway win over Warriors

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 100-79 runaway win over Warriors

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- New building, new team. 

The Golden State Warriors are a shadow of the team that just represented the Western Conference at five straight NBA Finals. Since moving to the Chase Center, they are now just 5-23, including a 100-79 blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.

Kings learned a big lesson in their loss to the Knicks on Friday, which they didn’t repeat against the Warriors. They got up big early on a lesser opponent and didn’t let up. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings hammered the Warriors to move to 12-14 on the season.

Bogi got hot

Golden State went on a mini-run early in the fourth quarter and then Bogdan Bogdanovic took over. 

Sacramento’s super-sub dropped in a pair of triples with just under eight minutes to play to take a commanding 90-65 lead. 

After a disappointing bench performance in the Kings’ loss to the Knicks Friday night, Sacramento’s second unit, led by Bogdanovic’s 25, outscored the Warriors’ by a final of 48-30.

In Rhythm

Buddy Hield didn’t post his 11th straight 20 point game, but the Kings’ leading scorer seems to have settled back into a shooting groove.

In 33 minutes of action, the Kings’ leading scorer dropped in 19 points on 8-of-11 from the field and 2-for-5 from 3-point range.

Hield’s had to carry way too much of the scoring load for Sacramento with all of the early season injuries and he’s struggled to get to the free-throw line, but when he is on, he’s one of the best pure shooters in the league. 

Building confidence

In his third game back from injury, Marvin Bagley is beginning to look more like the player the Kings saw last season. 

The high flying big posted his best game of the season, finishing with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with 6 rebounds. He was active in his 22 minutes and even showed some improvements on the defensive end.

In addition to the points and rebounds, Bagley picked up his first assist of the season. This is an area where Bagley needs to improve if he’s going to see an uptick in minutes. 

After playing primarily at power forward last season, Walton is focused on using Bagley at the five, at least until he gets comfortable in the team’s system.