NBA Draft

Marvin Bagley goes through Kings' patient plan just like De'Aaron Fox


Marvin Bagley goes through Kings' patient plan just like De'Aaron Fox

SACRAMENTO -- There is a plan in place. For the first time in more than a decade, the Sacramento Kings have found success in developing young players. Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein have taken major steps forward and De’Aaron Fox looks like a franchise building block in just his second year in the league.

The idea of developing players doesn’t always work, Sacramento can attest to that. There is no blueprint for success that works 100 percent of the time. The Kings have drafted in the lottery every year since 2007 and they have struggled to find players that can stick in the league, let alone on the Kings’ roster.

Head coach Dave Joerger and his staff have plenty of young, high level selections to work with, but at some point, they have to throw players into the fire and see if they can perform.

Rookie Marvin Bagley is the current project the team is working into the rotation. Taken with the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, the 19-year-old old power forward is still trying to break into the starting lineup. Bagley has all the potential in the world, but the patient approach is something Sacramento used last season with Fox and it’s paying off in his sophomore season.

Fox was the focal point coming into last year, but the Kings added George Hill with the hopes that he would mentor the young point guard. Fox wasn’t given the starting job coming out of camp, it was the veteran who took the lumps as the team got off to a slow start.

“It was definitely a help for me last year, some people don’t see it that way, but I definitely think that George helped me a lot, especially being able to practice against him everyday,” Fox told NBC Sports California.

For the first five games of the 2017-18 season, Fox came off the bench in a reserve roll. He picked up two spot starts with Hill missing games, but it wasn’t until game 15 of the regular season that the former Kentucky star moved into the starting group for good. 

“It’s just about being ready when your number is called,” Fox said. “I didn’t trip about my role last year. I knew I was young. George was proven. He’d been to the playoffs, played in the big game, so when I came in the game, I just tried to do what they asked me to do.”

[RELATED: Reggie Miller believes De'Aaron Fox is a 'superstar in the making']

Bagley has watched veteran Nemanja Bjelica start through the first 20 games of the regular season, but eventually, the time may come when he’s elevated to the first team.

“Whatever coach and the rest of the team needs from me, I’m willing to do,” Bagley told NBC Sports California. “I’m just ready when my number’s called and just trying to go out and produce everytime I’m out there on the floor.”

Over his last five games, Bagley has made a huge leap in production. The 6-foot-11 leaper has taken advantage of his opportunities, posting 16 points, 10 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in just under 29 minutes per game. During the stretch, he’s shot 54.4 percent from the field and his aggressive style has led to 5.4 free throw attempts per game.

“I feel like I’m getting better and better,” Bagley said. “It’s coming along. I just can’t wait to develop some more things to add to my game and one day be one of those guys in this league that people know and people look up to and want to be like.”

The Kings have been impressed with Bagley’s maturity for such a young player. They are slowly feeding him more and more as the season moves toward December. 

Before Sunday’s loss to Utah, Coach Joerger pointed to Bagley’s strong family influence off the court for his demeanor and willingness to be patient as he acclimates to the NBA game. 

[RELATED: Kings rookie Marvin Bagley drops new music video shot in Sacramento]

“I think that’s a different kind of dude than the dude who’s the oldest of three kids, his family is all hunkered in here to Sacramento,” Joerger said. “They haven’t let his head get big, they just have high character, high-quality family structure.”

Bjelica is helping to space the floor and he is a high basketball IQ player, but it’s only a matter of time before Bagley steals more of the spotlight in Sacramento. The rookie has an incredible motor and unlimited potential. 

“I’m just having fun, man, and not worrying about things that I can’t control,” Bagley said. “It will just stress you out.”

Bagley doesn’t look stressed out at all on the court. The game is slowing down and he’s starting to show teams around the league why he was taken near the top of the draft. Against Utah on Sunday, he posted 18 points and six rebounds. The night before on the road at Golden State, he chipped in 20 points and 17 rebounds.

The Kings have a plan for bringing Bagley along. So far, it’s working out pretty well. The team is competitive and Bagley appears to be building in the same way that Fox did a season ago.

Why Celtics' 2019 NBA draft plans could be changed by Kings' hot start


Why Celtics' 2019 NBA draft plans could be changed by Kings' hot start

The Sacramento Kings have a better record than the Boston Celtics on the day after Thanksgiving. Who saw that coming?

Certainly not the Celtics, whose 2019 NBA draft plans possibly are being ruined in the process.

At 10-8, the Kings are just .007 win percentage points out of a Western Conference playoff spot, so if the season ended today -- we know it doesn’t -- they’d receive a lottery pick in the draft.

Not so fast, though: That pick actually would go to the Celtics through some complicated maneuvers resulting from Sacramento’s 2015 Carl Landry-Jason Thompson-Nik Stauskas trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. Essentially, the Celtics will receive the more favorable of the 76ers’ and the Kings’ 2019 first-round picks unless that pick is No. 1 overall, in which case Boston would acquire the least favorable of Philadelphia and Sacramento’s selections.

[RELATED: Bogi, Bjelica carry surging Kings to 10th win]

The Celtics’ hope entering the season was that the Kings would be, well, the Kings and finish toward the Western Conference cellar. But they aren’t, so right now, Sacramento’s pick, pending how the ping-pong balls dropped and how the random tiebreaker draw went, would be either No. 13 or No. 14.

Because the Eastern Conference is weak beyond the Raptors, Bucks and 76ers, the 9-9 Celtics would make the playoffs if the season ended today, even though they’re one win worse than the Kings. A first-round exit -- a shocker for a team once favored to win the conference -- could put Boston’s own pick at No. 15.

The Celtics might have four first-round selections in next year's draft, if scenarios involving the Clippers and the Grizzlies fall their way. But landing just a mid-round pick from the Kings surely wasn’t what Boston had in mind.

Kings' NBA draft board, projected record possibly leaked on Twitter

Associated Press

Kings' NBA draft board, projected record possibly leaked on Twitter

There's never a dull moment for the Sacramento Kings.

On Wednesday afternoon, UC Santa Barbara basketball coach Joe Pasternack tweeted a photo of one of his former players, Gabe Vincent, signing a contract with the Kings.

At initial glance, the photo looks innocent enough. But upon further review, the Kings might want to rethink allowing photo ops in their general manager’s office.

That's because the whiteboard in the background appears to reveal a couple of items that the team might not want made public.

First up, a possible draft order from the 2018 NBA Draft, listing DeAndre Ayton, followed by Marvin Bagley, Luka Doncic, Michael Porter Jr., Mo Bamba and Miles Bridges.

It’s not the way the draft went, but it shows what the Kings might have been thinking before June 21. They apparently were very high on Porter before injury issues popped up.

Hiding in the lower right corner of Vlade Divac’s whiteboard is “29-53.” Is that a possible reference to the Kings' expected record this season?

Just in case you needed more proof that it’s Divac's office, a photoshopped picture of the former Kings center as “The Vladfather” can be found to the right of his head.

Nothing in the realm of “top secret” was revealed, but the photo instantly became meme-worthy on Twitter. There’s a good chance that someone in the Kings office is on dry-eraser duty for the next few weeks.