Before the Sacramento Kings boarded a flight to New York City on Wednesday morning, they took care of some medical news.
According to the team, Marvin Bagley underwent an x-ray on his broken right thumb and has been re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff.
Bagley is progressing in his recovery and will make the four-game trip to the east coast, but he will not suit up for the Kings as they push to get back to the .500 mark. The 20-year-old power forward will undergo another re-evaluation when the team returns home next week.
After a solid rookie season, Bagley was injured on opening night against the Phoenix Suns. He’s missed the last 12 games but has ramped up his activity both in practice and in pregame over the last week.
“Once he’s cleared, we have to get him on the practice court,” head coach Luke Walton said during pregame on Tuesday. “I’ve played with players like Kobe (Bryant) who could miss four weeks and come back and they are ready to go at a high level. And then I’ve been a player myself, where if I missed four weeks, I need another four weeks just to be able to run with the guys out there. So it’s different for everybody.”
Bagley is likely closer to the Kobe model than the Walton model in this particular instance. He’s been on the floor working out and staying in shape during the injury, despite wearing a removable brace on his right hand.
The injury is also to Bagley’s non-dominant hand, which has allowed him to continue to work not just on cardio, but on shooting drills as well.
A lot has changed in the 12 games Bagley has missed. Nemanja Bjelica has stepped in and played extremely well at the power forward position and Richaun Holmes has taken over the center position for veteran Dewayne Dedmon.
Bjelica is averaging 11.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in 25.8 minutes per game as a starter. He’s also shooting 53.1 percent from 3-point range during that time and his true shooting percentage of 67.8 is tops on the team.
With Bjelica spacing the floor, Holmes has found a home in the paint. The athletic 26-year-old is averaging 11.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 29.6 minutes over nine games as a starter.
The combination of the two players has helped the Kings recover from their slow start to the season, but the team is also excited to get Bagley back in the fold.
“We can’t wait,” Richaun Holmes said of Bagley’s potential return. “When he gets back, to have a talent like that inside our lineup, all know what he can do on the floor, that’s just going to make us better. We’re looking forward to getting him back.”
Bagley has a different skill set than either Holmes or Bjelica. He isn’t the shooter that Bjelica is and he’s still learning the pick-and-roll game that has made Holmes so successful. But Bagley is likely the best rebounder of the lot and his ability to get easy baskets as a true back to the basket scorer is a welcome sight.
“No complications to me,” Holmes added. “He’s talented. You know we’re going to need him. We need everyone in this locker room. When he gets back, we’re ready to have him back out on the floor.”
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Bagley’s original diagnosis had him missing 4-6 weeks of action. We’re currently at the four-week mark, which means he’s getting close.
Walton will have a tough decision to make when Bagley is finally ready to return. The chemistry of his team is building. They’ve won six of their last eight games to move within a game of .500. But Bagley is the future of the Kings and after an adjustment period, he is going right back into the starting lineup.