SACRAMENTO -- Preseason is over. Records and stats are thrown out the window and now it’s time for a young Sacramento Kings team to step on the floor and prove they belong when games count.
Everything is new for rookie Marvin Bagley III. From the grind of training camp, to getting smoked by 39 points against the Utah Jazz, it’s all a learning experience and the 19-year-old power forward is taking it in stride.
“You look up at the score, you’re down 30, not putting your head down and not playing hard, that’s something I try not to do,” Bagley said Sunday after practice. “I just try to keep attacking, keep going, keep playing like it’s a tie game or like we’re winning. I think that’s the big things for us, stay positive, pick each other up, no matter what’s going on.”
Following the drubbing at the hands of Utah, Bagley stayed at his locker while others scurried out the door as quickly as possible. No player wants to talk to the media after an embarrassing loss.
Bagley didn’t take the bait. He stood tall and took the lumps for his teammates, including some players with a lot more to answer for.
Against Portland, on the second night of a back-to-back, Bagley continued to show he belongs. In 27 minutes against the Blazers, the former Duke star scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while grabbing six rebounds. He hit his first 3-pointer in the 118-115 loss, and added a steal and a block.
“Even though we lost that game in Portland, I think we had flashes of what we can do as a team,” Bagley said. “We were running that game. We definitely came out with more energy than the last games that we had.”
While the numbers are reset to zero for Wednesday’s opener against Utah, it’s hard not to like what Bagley’s shown so far. In six preseason contests, the 6-foot-11 big posted 13.0 points, a team-high 6.8 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in 24.1 minutes per game.
Bagley picked up four fouls in the preseason opener against Phoenix, but only committed another three in the final five games. He also turned the ball over a total of six times during the exhibition season.
Regardless of how strong the rookie plays, there are still naysayers out there. Before being selected with the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, basketball analysts around the league said Bagley couldn’t play defense and could only score with his left hand. It’s early, but he’s shown plenty defensively and his offensive game is developing.
“I’ve been doing it since since I was younger and a lot of people had a lot of things to say about my game, but I blocked it out,” Bagley said. “I kept getting better, kept working. One day they’ll love you, the next day they’ll hate you, they’ll tear you down. They’ll even build you up so they can tear you down. Everything with the media and what’s going on outside these lines and what we have going on, it doesn’t bother me, I try not to think about it.”
He can’t wait to kick off his career later this week. The 19-year-old is excited to play alongside Harry Giles III, and he’s looking forward to facing former Blue Devil teammate Grayson Allen in the opener.
Bagley is mature well beyond his years. He’s been in the spotlight since he was a young prep athlete, and he’s ready to finally hit the big stage and show the league what he’s got.