Sunday was supposed to be the day that fans got to see Marvin Bagley III and Luka Doncic on the same court for the first time.
That notion was derailed by a knee injury to the Kings’ rookie big man, so all eyes will be on Doncic instead.
Bagley and Doncic likely will be mentioned together throughout their careers. The Kings passed on Doncic with the second overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, choosing Bagley over the European phenom.
Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the third overall selection, Doncic was dealt to Dallas on draft night for the rights to Trae Young and a future first-round pick.
Doncic is off to a great start in his rookie season, ranking second on the Mavs in scoring per game at 17.8. He’s a high basketball-IQ player who’s acting as Dallas’ primary ball-handler when he’s on the court.
Why the Kings passed on Doncic has been asked and answered quite a few times. Vlade Divac and his group believe Bagley is a player with a higher ceiling than Doncic.
Sacramento’s front office also believed Bagley was a better fit for the team they have assembled, and they were comfortable taking the gamble on the 6-foot-11 big out of Duke.
Speaking to a rival NBA executive who had Doncic rated higher on his draft board than Bagley, he can see why the Kings made the move they did.
This exec has been impressed with Bagley’s ability to get off the floor, and his second jump is even better than advertised. Coming into the draft process, the exec had concerns over Bagley’s defense, but he now believes that aspect of the evaluation process might have been overblown.
He likes the way Bagley moves in a crowd and the way he aggressively gets to a spot. He sees a bright future for the Kings’ rookie.
When evaluating Doncic, the executive says he still loves what he sees. He had the Slovenian-born guard as his No. 2 overall prospect.
He also agrees that Doncic might not have been a great fit with the Kings. With De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic already on the roster, adding another ball-dominant player might not have worked.
The two will be linked for a long time, and it’s too early to tell who will have a better career. Doncic is off to a great start, but his experience playing overseas had him better prepared to step into the league and perform.
As a big, Bagley likely will take a year or two longer to fully develop, but his size, speed and athleticism are elite, and he has star potential.