After missing the start of training camp for an undisclosed reason, Kings third-year big man Marvin Bagley made his return on Wednesday. In his first session with the media since before the Orlando bubble, Bagley confirmed that he tested positive for the coronavirus, which is why he was absent for the last week.
“I caught [COVID-19] while I was out in Arizona a couple of days before we had to be out here,” Bagley said. “So I wasn’t here for the first few days or camp for the individual workouts.”
According to Bagley, he has been in Sacramento since the start of camp and able to do individual workouts, but he is still finishing up the NBA’s protocol. He also struggled with symptoms of the virus, although he’s moved past that now and is feeling back to normal.
“I had symptoms the first three or four days, body aches, headaches, I was hot and cold,” Bagley said. “It was kind of like the flu, but it was a little bit worse than that.”
On a good note, Bagley has been on the sidelines watching and learning the team’s new offensive and defensive schemes. He’s a little behind because he hasn’t been on the floor with his teammates, but there is still time to overcome the absence.
“I’ve been here the whole time, I’m learning, I’m excited about the system that we’re running now,” Bagley said. “I’m ready to get back out there and contribute to it.”
The 21-year-old played in just 13 games last season due to a broken thumb and two separate foot sprains, one in each foot. He’s come into camp in tremendous shape, even after going through the virus.
“Marvin looks good,” head coach Luke Walton said. “We're thrilled that he's healthy and excited to see what he can do this season.”
Injuries and illness are part of the game, but Bagley seems to have been hit particularly hard early in his career. It’s not a lack of training or something Bagley has done to put himself at risk, but unfortunately for both he and the Kings, he can’t shake the injury bug.
“I don’t really believe in luck, it’s just unfortunate those things happened, but God allowed them to happen to me,” Bagley said. “I learned a lot. I’m feeling good. It’s time to move forward. It’s time to think about what we have now and thinking about staying healthy -- what can I do to make sure I’m staying out there in the court.”
Taken with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Kings still have high hopes for Bagley. He’s played in a total of 75 games in his first two seasons in the league, but he still fits the team’s style of play perfectly and if he can avoid setbacks, there is no ceiling on the Duke product.
The focus from Bagley has been to improve his body, work on his diet and continue to take steps forward. He has no interest in looking back on what amounted to a lost season.
“Last season I’m putting that behind me,” Bagley said. “I really don’t care to talk about it anymore. I’m just looking forward. I’m excited to be with this new group of guys, these new faces we’ve got here and I’m excited to build on what we’ve been doing so far.”
It’s a big season for Bagley. He’ll be eligible for an extension next summer, but he has to show that he can stay on the court. Outside of the broken thumb, Bagley hasn’t suffered any substantial structural injuries that required surgery although multiple foot injuries have to be a slight concern.
After some major highs and lows, Bagley seems to have a new approach to this season. He doesn’t know if he’s a starter or will come off the bench and he is focused on what he can control.
“I’m coming in with no expectations, just ready to work,” Bagley said.
Bagley has already been ruled out of the Kings’ first preseason game on Friday in Portland due to the league’s protocols, but that isn’t a huge concern.
There is hope that he can be back on the floor and fully cleared in the coming days. With two weeks before the start of the regular season, there is still time for him to play himself into the rotation and perhaps more.
The Kings brought in plenty of depth in the offseason, but if Bagley is healthy, it won’t take long for him to work his way to the front of the line.