SACRAMENTO -- There was a welcomed sight Monday evening at Golden 1 Center.
At the 4:03 mark of the opening quarter, rookie Marvin Bagley III stepped to the scorers' table and entered the game for the first time since injuring his left knee against the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 14.
In his first game back after missing the previous 11, the Kings featured the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft early, feeding him in the post and allowing him to get reacquainted with the court.
“I feel great, first couple of times getting up and the court, I was a little tired, but as the game kinda went on and as we started going up and down a little more, it kind of felt normal,” Bagley said.
The Duke product responded with a modest eight points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 from the line. He added six rebounds, an assist and a block in 20 minutes of action.
He looked gassed at times and forced a few shot attempts, but his presence as a post scorer, rebounder and shot blocker was felt in his limited look.
“When he first came to the bench, he was like, ‘I’m tired as hell’,” De’Aaron Fox said of the Kings’ rookie. “You can do as much conditioning as you want, but nothing’s like playing in the game. It’s definitely great to have him back.”
Despite his age and lack of NBA experience, Bagley’s talent is evident. He’s an impact player for the Kings and has star potential moving forward.
He looked a little apprehensive at times, but that is to be expected after nearly a month away from the game.
“First game back, he’s going to have little jitters, he’s still a rookie,” Buddy Hield said. “But we need Marvin and I think when he’s on the floor, his rebounding ability is major for us. We need that and he’s a great boost for us and he’s going to keep getting better.”
Sacramento lost 130-125 to the Warriors in the game Bagley was originally injured. The schedule was difficult, but the team went just 4-7 without the power forward and they were outrebounded in all but one of the 11 contests.
Bagley's certain he's gonna play tomorrow in Phoenix despite it being a back-to-back 🙌 pic.twitter.com/mMCDNCEayl— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 8, 2019
The Kings plan to take a cautious approach to Bagley's recovery and he is on a minutes restriction for the next few games. He told media members that he intended to play Tuesday but the team decided against it on the second night of a back-to-back against the Suns.