20Q | Articles

20Q: Can Marvin Bagley be a Long-Term Key for the Kings?

If Bagley can stay healthy, there's still plenty of opportunity for him to prove he is a franchise pillar for this team. But the clock is ticking. 

For the third season in a row, the Sacramento Kings enter the year with Marvin Bagley as the franchise's biggest question mark. This isn't so much an indictment on Marvin - who got injured on opening day in October 2019, missed all but 13 games of the regular season, and then missed the bubble games due to an extended foot injury - but it's a fact that the Kings are no closer to understanding Bagley's role on an efficient NBA team than they were when he was a rookie.

At the end of his rookie season, Bagley had quietly put up historic numbers for a teenager - he was one of only 15 players in NBA history to have scored more than 900 points in a season where they were 19 years old. Given his collegiate career and rookie season, I have little doubt that, if healthy, Bagley will be a stat sheet monster - and considering the team's lack of go-to scorers and above-average rebounders, the Kings need Marvin Bagley to produce. But the challenge for the Kings from the day they drafted Marvin is optimizing a Bagley-led team. Can Marvin Bagley be a franchise pillar for a winning, efficient basketball team? Who the hell knows, and this is the season to find out.

Of course, we have no idea who Marvin Bagley is as a basketball player right now. He's sure optimistic about the season and says this is the €œbest I've ever felt in a while.€ But he's also spent so much time out of sight from Kings fans. We have no real idea how his shot will translate in a meaningful game, if his defensive instincts have continued to improve, and if he'll ever become a playmaker for others. It's unlikely that Bagley will immediately and seamlessly fit in with the rest of the squad, because he's never been an immediate, seamless fit before. Indeed, I expect that the first month or so will be rough for Marvin€¦ pray the basketball gods help every young, unproven player who has to rely on Luke Walton to optimize them on the basketball floor. But being tough to optimize should not take away from Bagley's gifts - his scoring drive, ability to get to the free throw line, determination on the offensive glass, and promise as a small-ball center. If he can stay healthy, there's still plenty of opportunity for Bagley to prove he belongs as a long-term key piece of this team. But the clock is ticking.

Last season, when Bagley suffered his wrist injury and sat on the bench to start the year, I wrote  an article for a site that shall not be named about how the Kings desperately needed Marvin Bagley back. Forgive me for quoting myself, but everything I wrote then is still true today.

As he's sat on the bench the last month, Marvin has become underrated €” partly because of his complex offensive game, partly because of his clear and visible weaknesses as a 20 year old, and partly because of the basketball demigod erupting in Dallas. But Luka Dončić's future-MVP career arc, no matter how brilliant or absurd, doesn't limit Bagley's own All-Star potential. Marvin is a 95th percentile athlete with an undeniable basketball motor and dynamic scoring instincts for his age. The growth Bagley showed from his time at Duke through his rookie year with the Kings should have everyone excited for the future.

Here's hoping Marvin can re-spark that excitement for Kings fans.

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Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 17, 2020 9:32 am

I too think he is going to put up impressive box score stats, but I’m not sure that necessarily a good thing for the team. I could easily see him approaching 20 and 10 numbers as his career goes on, but I worry those are the very definition of empty stats that don’t translate to team wins.

He has all the moves for a nice one on one game in the post and can get his shots when he wants them, but I worry about the black hole potential he could get every time the ball touches his hands. Until he can show the vision and willingness to pass AND bring it on the defensive end, I’ll temper my enthusiasm. Ideally I’d love him to become the perfect PnR/P player to go with Fox, but until either can develop a reliable outside shot I remain concerned.

Here is just hoping he can stay on the court and impress us with his development.

andy_sims
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December 17, 2020 11:58 am
Reply to  Adamsite

“Why did you get that rebound, Marvin? When you threw the outlet to Buddy, he dribbled it off of his foot! All you did was initiate a sequence that led to a turnover! EMPTY STATS, PAL.”

Stats are stats. More rebounds are better than fewer. More points are better than fewer. There were people talking about Whiteside’s “empty stats” in the Warriors game the other night. I don’t even understand how such a thing is possible, particularly in a one-point game.

If a guy isn’t absolutely hogging the ball and destroying his team’s offense, I’m finding that no one ever accuses a player that they like of gathering “empty stats.”

BestHyperboleEver
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December 17, 2020 12:34 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

More points from an individual player aren’t better than fewer if it takes them a ton of shots to get those points. More rebounds from an individual player isn’t better than fewer if the rebounder is always near the hoop because they refuse to close out on shooters and give up uncontested shots. The term “empty stats” is certainly WAY overused as people have a bad tendency to blanket apply it to anybody that puts up big numbers on a bad team, but the phenomenon absolutely exists.

Last edited 1 year ago by BestHyperboleEver
andy_sims
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December 17, 2020 12:54 pm

Trying to square that explanation with HW’s numbers from the other night. By that measure, Kobe Bryant spent huge portions of his career racking up “empty stats.”

BestHyperboleEver
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December 17, 2020 2:40 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

How would that suggest Kobe racked up empty stats. He scored decently efficiently, created for teammates well and played exceptional defense. My whole point is that the empty stats argument is misplaced without looking at the larger context.

andy_sims
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December 18, 2020 7:20 am

Funny, because that was exactly my point.

Bluejohn
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December 20, 2020 9:54 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

andy_sims. One of the great pleasures for me on TKH is seeing you comment with the same engagement you used to lo, all those many years ago on TZ’s site.
FWIW I totally agree with you on empty stats. Reduced to the absurd all shots and stats are “empty” in a losing effort.

Lucky_Guy
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December 17, 2020 4:41 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Bagley has so much to overcome from this fan base.

  1. He is not Luka and some fans will never forgive him for it. (not fair in any way)
  2. Some fans think he is injury prone and that he will never be able to stay on the court(this is probably the fairest of the bunch)
  3. Some fans think he will just not be that good even if he is healthy. (it is fine to have that opinion)
  4. Even if he does stay healthy and puts up good numbers those numbers will likely be empty. (this is the one I don’t get)

Can we at least see him put up these 20 and 10 numbers and see how it helps or does not help the team before we start calling his future stats empty? Does he need to improve his passing, shooting, and defensive awareness? Of course, he does. The dude is basically about to start his 2nd season in the NBA this year. I am excited to see what he can bring.

TrojanCBB
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December 17, 2020 9:32 am

The people in the background of that picture are hilarious.

Kingsguru21
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December 17, 2020 9:34 am

You shouldn’t ask dumb questions Bryant. It’s unbecoming of your character.

RobHessing
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December 17, 2020 9:55 am

Here’s the amazeballs thing: At the conclusion of this season Bagley will enter the off-season that Hield entered a year ago and Fox entered at the end of this past season. That is, the season of the early extension. Without the extension, Bagley could be an RFA after the 21-22 season. Due to last year’s lost season, the Kings really have this season to determine how committed they are to Bagley in the long-term. And it’s fair to say that the Kings (like a lot of NBA teams) do not fare well when their players hit the market as RFAs.

Tick-tick-tick.

Jman1949
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December 17, 2020 10:28 am
Reply to  RobHessing

That explains the second jump.

comment image

Kingsguru21
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December 17, 2020 10:32 am
Reply to  RobHessing

the Kings really have this season to determine how committed they are to Bagley in the long-term. And it’s fair to say that the Kings (like a lot of NBA teams) do not fare well when their players hit the market as RFAs.

This isn’t necessarily true. It’s usually a sign of bad things to come, I agree, if a player hits RFA, but sometimes there’s mitigating circumstances. This might be one of those scenarios where the Kings need more time before making that decision. The only thing I could say, at this point, is that Bagley won’t get a max rookie extension. But short of being eligible for the 5th year 30% criteria (which Fox would have to get the MVP this season to be eligible for — it’s the only way to qualify at this point), Fox will be at 25% of the cap. But if Bagley were to be offered the Max QO, that’s the same thing. The only way an extension is more lucrative for the player is if they qualify for that that 30% criteria. Like Fox, Bagley would likely to have win the MVP for that to matter. If he’s a 1st or 2nd All NBA team player this year, that would be the other way.

In otherwords, I think if the Kings are doing an extension with Bagley it’s because they are getting a good deal to do so. But Bagley might prefer to not sign and wait another year. And if so, the Max QO is always available for Bagley after year 4. But unlike the QO, that’s a 5 year max deal, not a single year deal.

I’m not concerned about whether or Bagley can be kept long term. (I don’t know if he can ever be happy in Sac unless he learns how to ignore his father.) I’m concerned about whether Marvin Bagley is worth keeping in the first place.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kingsguru21
Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 17, 2020 10:38 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Isn’t there the possibility that after his third year he can still sign a rookie extension but at far less than the max, much like the Warriors did with Curry? Is it bad to think that if Marvin has a fine year, but nothing spectacular, the Kings could get him relatively cheap for an addition 3+ years.

Kingsguru21
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December 17, 2020 10:39 am
Reply to  Adamsite

He can sign an extension after year 3. But it will be for 4 years and whatever number is agreed to. In Curry’s case it was a 4 year 44 million dollar deal.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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December 17, 2020 10:47 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

So there is that possibility of retaining Bagley on the relative cheap , IF the Kings think he will make the jump in his 4th year and more importantly, he doesn’t “shine” this year.

Kingsguru21
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December 17, 2020 10:48 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Bagley might turn it down though. I would bet he does, actually.

Adamsite
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December 17, 2020 10:53 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

Hard to say, it all comes down to what he does this season. If he sits with any kind of minor injuries, the Kings might get the Curry discount.

From what I recall, the Warriors were questioned in giving Curry that extension and Curry very willingly took it. It might be one of the main reasons there were eventually able to afford Durant.

Kingsguru21
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December 17, 2020 11:02 am
Reply to  Adamsite

It might be one of the main reasons there were eventually able to afford Durant.

It was one reason. The cap going up by a lot in 2016 without cap smoothing was the other.

Adamsite
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December 17, 2020 11:34 am
Reply to  Kingsguru21

True, I forgot about that massive TV deal. Warriors sure did catch lightning in a bottle.

Kingsguru21
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December 17, 2020 10:43 am
Reply to  RobHessing

Regarding the terms of a Max QO. Via that Larry guy:

If the player is coming off the fourth year of his rookie scale contract, then in addition to a qualifying offer, his team can also submit a maximum qualifying offer. A maximum qualifying offer is for five seasons at the maximum salary with 8% annual raises. It can contain no options, ETOs or bonuses of any kind, and must be fully guaranteed. When a team submits a maximum qualifying offer (in essence “stepping up” with a maximum contract offer before the player hits the free agent market), it places a more stringent requirement on other teams’ offer sheets (see below).



RORDOG
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December 17, 2020 3:10 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

get ‘er done

rockbottom
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December 17, 2020 12:54 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Name a RFA that was lost that a team truly wanted to keep ? It is the part of the collective bargaining agreement to protect teams in keeping their free agents ! You can match any offer and have the ability to pay more and for longer and same for total Free Agents !

RobHessing
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December 17, 2020 1:36 pm
Reply to  rockbottom

Most players that teams really want to keep never get to that point. That is why you see players like Hield and Fox get extended a full year before they hit restricted free agency.

I’m going to guess that the Kings wanted to retain Bogdanovic, for example, but not at 4/$72m. The Kings could be faced with a similar situation if Bagley does not grow exponentially as a player and becomes a mid-range and not max signing. All it takes is one offer that is bigger than what you’re willing to swallow, and the next thing you know the #2 pick in the 2018 NBA draft is down the road for nothing (or next to nothing) in return.

Fact is the Kings still have no idea what they have in Bagley, and the meter’s running on their ability to find out.

Tick-tick-tick.

Hamlet1989
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December 17, 2020 2:59 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Are you arguing for a trade now?

RobHessing
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December 17, 2020 3:11 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

I am not. I am merely stating that teams have a rather narrow window to evaluate their young talent before committing big dollars to them, and the window for Bagley has been made even narrower due to his myriad injuries.

Honestly, I don’t know how you trade him right now for anything of value. He has to prove that he can stay healthy before he’ll be of value to any team.

BestHyperboleEver
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December 17, 2020 10:16 am

I suppose it’s a semantic discussion about how you define “long term key.’ Was, say, Steven Adams a long-term key for those good Thunder teams? Was Zach Randolph a long-term key for the Grizz? If so, then sure. Bagley can potentially become be a useful contributor as the 3rd or 4th best player on a decent-to-good team. Someone that could sit somewhere around the top 40ish players and maybe grab a dubious All-Star selection because his contributions happen to fall into the right stat categories.

But he hasn’t shown any real flashes of the kind of high level facilitation or defensive potential that allows players to really break into the top tiers.

As Rob notes, the biggest issue is that A) As a #2 pick he’s already pricey and 2) He’s already burned 2 of his team-control years without contributing much on the court.

Sir_tajj
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December 17, 2020 10:26 am

See, I don’t think this is the year to figure out who Marvin is. I don’t care what he says or team says for this year. When you’re that competitive, and with all that’s gone wrong for him, he is going to go out there and prove his worth. Unfortunately, that means a lot of forced shots, high usage and low assist. But once he does establish himself, or at least isn’t chasing that ghost, that’s when we will see the real Marvin. When he doesn’t have to play to prove his number two status, he’ll look to put team first. That’s when he will be deadly. Like what would you do? I’m 30, now old enough to realize how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of the universe. When I was 20, it was all about proving things to people who shouldn’t matter in the first place. That led to a lot of bad decisions. I think basketball is similar to life in that way. But I’m no expert.

BestHyperboleEver
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December 17, 2020 10:45 am
Reply to  Sir_tajj

The bad thing is, if that happens for Bagley, it will probably be on his second or third contract and for a different team. The Kings need it to happen in the next two seasons.

oshima9
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December 20, 2020 11:06 am
Reply to  Sir_tajj

“When he doesn’t have to play to prove his number two status, he’ll look to put team first.”

I’ve seen nothing from Bagley to indicate that this will ever happen.

Peja
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December 17, 2020 10:30 am

I will root for Marvin Bagley to prove me wrong. I want him to prove me wrong. I want him to be a long term fit for the kings future. I wish I had Carmichael Dave’s enthusiasm about him as a player and I hope he is right. I just feel like I am talking myself into him being a great player instead of feeling confident that he will be a great player. Please prove me wrong Marvin!

Trey2288
December 17, 2020 10:42 am

I understand why kings fans aren’t happy with Bagley. We could have had Donkic, but Marvin has amazing talent. At his floor he’s a 15 point 7 rebound a game guy. People with his skills and talent don’t get on your team every year. If the Kings are ever going to make a run at a championship in the next decade Bagley will probably have to be a big reason why.

BestHyperboleEver
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December 17, 2020 10:54 am
Reply to  Trey2288

It’s got nothing to do with Doncic at this point. It’s incumbent on Bagley to prove he can impact winning basketball.

RikSmits
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December 17, 2020 11:07 am
Reply to  Trey2288

Forget Doncic.

Objectively, how happy should we be with a No. 2 pick who only played a total of 75 games in his first two seasons?

andy_sims
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December 17, 2020 12:02 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

And realistically, how much blame should we drop onto the player for getting injured? Is it more or less than if he had been drafted at #5?

RikSmits
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December 17, 2020 2:04 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Who mentioned blame?

GetOffaMyLawn
December 17, 2020 10:47 am

NinjaFetus
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December 17, 2020 11:16 am

Like others I want Bagley to do well and be able to 1) contribute & 2) stay healthy.

I just think it’ll be for another team with what has happened already.

kings4ever
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December 17, 2020 11:21 am

Bagley needs to be able to make a 15 foot shot out to a spot 3s to set up his drives and inside game. He is not going to be a stud scoring threat unless he gets the defense to honor his shot.

How lethal he becomes depends on a semi-reliable shot. You can say this about anyone but it is especially true with Bagley because he forecasts what is going to do too readily. He goes left, he finishes left, another relatively constant variable.

If all he is going to do is attack the rim every time he gets it, go right into the heart of the defense, which is his instinct, use his hops and agility to go through and over defenders, he becomes very predictable, the defense is waiting.

He attacks the rim very well but you need to have more versatility than this no matter who you are, well maybe, everyone except a healthy Zion Willliamson.

I don’t think anyone knows how accurate his jumper will be. I think it is hard to say whether he will become a predominant scorer because it is predicated on this, make outside shot enough to keep defenders honest.

There was a conscious decision, it seems for Bagley to lean out, not train for hypertrophy, no interest in bulking up. This was probably smart (1) he cannot anchor a defense as a center (2) injury history. He becomes more injury prone than he has already exhibited if he is battling against bigger centers.

So when you factor in where the Kings are going to be playing him, making the midrange to perimeter shot becomes more important.

I like what Bagley can become if and when he is playing with high activity space creator guys like Guy, Hali and Metu. I am less optimistic if he is sharing the court with slugs who turn the game into a halfcourt grind.

If his shot is semi-reliable to better and his teammates complement him, it will be very easy for him to put up 20 and 10 on good effeciency. You cannot say that about many players, that 20 and 10 is relatively easy.

And I think he can put up these numbers without being a “black hole” because rebound totals will come from offensive rebounds and filling the lanes on the break (unusual for a PF) and his 20 points per game will include getting to the free throw line at a plus high rate.

On defense, I think he shows an interest if not aptitude to be a good defender. Commitment and effort will compensate for the instincts being somewhat, uh, lacking.

OakieNiner
December 17, 2020 12:21 pm
Reply to  kings4ever

I dissagree, I think he would look better next to Whiteside than Holmes or Metu. Whitesides knows how to get out of the way and if you got both whiteside and Bagley crashing the boards you should be outrebounding teams every night and have a lot of second chance opportunities that lead to easy points. If all these things arte happening then good defense is likley being played leading to quick transition opportunities for Fox, Halli, Hield, etc… When quick fast pace transition isn’t opening up you go to the grind and Whiteside can come out on the PnR whihc should unclog the paint for Bagely to go to work.

CoreyBrewersD
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December 20, 2020 1:51 pm
Reply to  OakieNiner

Not sure how crashing boards leads to good defense? Fewer 2nd chance points, but more open shots with Marvin and Hassan not really being to get out and switch on screens.

andy_sims
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December 17, 2020 11:53 am

I agree completely with your assessments, both new and old.

In spite of everything that’s happened, he remains a rangy, athletic, 6’11” guy who has displayed some impressive offensive skill in his all-too-limited minutes. Marvin is going to be a reliable asset for some time.

CoreyBrewersD
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December 20, 2020 1:52 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

Injury and attitude aside?

BeTheBall
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December 17, 2020 12:44 pm

Can he? Sure.

Will he? I’m not getting my hopes up, simply due to injuries and their effect on his game having zero development in the two years he’s been in the league.

HaliComet
December 17, 2020 1:14 pm

I agree with Doug Christie’s observation that Bagley’s injuries have been of the freakish kind and not indicative of his ability to play a large part in the King’s future success. All of the tankathon comments fail to account for the skill and competitive nature of Fox and Bagley. Time will tell…

CoreyBrewersD
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December 20, 2020 1:53 pm
Reply to  HaliComet

What happened with the foot? Those injuries do not bode well for bigs.
If is was just an ankle why not just say so?

Hamlet1989
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December 17, 2020 3:01 pm

At least they didn’t decline his option

ManilaBayCleanerCrew
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December 17, 2020 4:29 pm

Bagley for me is a 5 with a 4 body and the brittleness of a wafer. If he can strengthen his core then he can easily be one of our best players but that’s a big if.

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