Luka Doncic was the easy pick at No. 2, but Marvin Bagley III might have a higher ceiling. After demolishing the ACC as a freshman, the Kings selected Bagley with the hopes that he can be a superstar. Only time will tell if they made the right decision.
Bagley is long and has incredible quickness for a man his size. He’s also young and will take time to develop into a consistent NBA regular. He’ll be counted on for a major role with the Kings this season as they look to push the tempo and go young, but his production will likely be all over the board.
Players don’t typically stroll into the ACC and average 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game as an 18-year-old freshman. Bagley is special on the offensive end and his game should translate well to the NBA game.
At 6-foot-11, 235-pounds, Bagley will be asked to play both the power forward and center position throughout his career. He has an incredible ability to get off the floor multiple times in a short period of time, which will help him as both a rebounder and a defender.
He has an advanced post game, range on his jumper and he can really move both in transition and in the halfcourt. As De’Aaron Fox and Yogi Ferrell look to push the tempo, they will find a running mate in Bagley, who gets from one end of the court to the other as well as any big in the league.
In his lone season in college, Bagley shot 39.7 percent from long range and he has potential to play some stretch four at the NBA level. His jumper is solid, although he rushed it a bit during summer league action. Shot selection will be an issue early, but he has a scorers mentality.
His quick leaping ability draws comparisons to Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, but it’s a little early to put him in the upper echelon of rebounders. It should also help on the defensive end, where he showed some potential to block and redirect shots during summer league action.
Bagley comes into the league with the same issues that most young players have. He needs to get stronger, add weight and learn how to play defense. He has good length and an incredible vertical leap, but he’s only figured out how to use these tools on one end of the court.
As a scorer, there is a lot to love about Bagley. There are also some concerns. He relies too heavily on his left hand in the post, almost completely avoiding his right. He’s not the only big to play to his dominant hand, but if he is going to become an elite scorer in the post, he’ll need to learn how to go right.
He’ll need time to develop as a passer and he’s probably going to struggle to hold his position in the blocks. Bagley has a big frame, but it will likely take two or three years to fill out.
Bagley’s struggles on the defensive end were well chronicled at Duke. Mike Krzyzewski even went to a zone defense to hide him for long stretches. There is potential here, but he’ll have to study the game and improve his basketball IQ if he hopes to hold his own at the NBA level.
Path to Improvement
If Bagley can bring the same type of offensive firepower he showed both as a prep athlete and at the collegiate level, the Kings might have a Blake Griffin-type offensive weapon. He needs to show that he can score with his right. He needs to hit the glass and pull down 10 boards a game. He needs to engage on the defensive end.
Until we see the NBA product, it’s hard to guess who and what Bagley will be or how he can improve. What we do know is that he walked into one of the tougher leagues outside of the NBA and dominated at a very young age.
Like Harry Giles, Bagley is going to see plenty of court time this season. As a No. 2 overall pick, the Kings have placed a good portion of their future in his development. The coaching staff will work hard to make him passable on the defensive end and they will push him to hit the glass and rebound outside of his zone.
You don’t sit a player like this. You run him out there and hope he makes adjustments and finds his way. Expect Bagley to either start on opening night at the four or be the first big off the bench.
An early prediction has Bagley posting 14 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 assists in 27 minutes per game as a rookie. Those numbers could even jump higher if the Kings’ offense finds a new gear.
Bagley will be a work in progress, but the potential for greatness is there. Expect him to get every opportunity to shine in his rookie season.