With the news that Marvin Bagley III has fractured his left hand, we’re left to consider the impacts to both this season and beyond. We still haven’t heard an official timeline from the Kings, but this type of injury generally comes with a 3-6 weeks timeframe.
Let’s first discuss the impact of missing 3-6 weeks. A roughly three week absence would mean missing 11 or 12 games. Six weeks would mean missing about 23 games. A six week absence would mean returning at the end of April. The season itself concludes May 14th. Would the Kings even bother bringing Bagley back for 10 games at the end of the year?
Marvin’s injury also impacts Monte McNair’s trade options. There were reports that Bagley was up for discussion in trades. It always sounded unlikely that Bagley would be traded at this deadline. Between his current contract (which is higher thanks being the second overall pick), and his upcoming Qualifying Offer and Restricted Free Agency, teams were understandably reticent to acquire Bagley. But now, it’s seems impossible that anyone would be trading for Bagley. Those contract concerns just compounded with injury concerns.
To be clear, there’s nothing to suggest Bagley can’t or won’t recover from a hand fracture. These injuries happen and players recover just fine. But opposing teams, just like many Kings fans, probably saw this news and thought “Bagley is just injury prone”. Through a series of unfortunate events, Bagley has missed extensive stretches of his young career to injuries. First a right thumb fracture, then a foot sprain, a nagging wrist injury, a sore calf, and now a left hand fracture. There’s no pattern to these injuries, nothing to suggest any underlying cause, nothing to suggest these things will continue in his career, but an inescapable pattern of missing games with injuries.
Bagley had nearly shaken that injury-prone reputation this season. He played through obvious pain with his wrist injury, but never missed time and remained productive. He missed just two games with a sore calf, returned on a minutes restriction, but blew past that minutes restriction as soon as the coaching staff gave him the green light. Bagley clearly wants to play, wants to prove himself, and wants to get better, but his body keeps letting him down.
And that is really the worst impact of this injury. Bagley once again is unable to prove himself. Bagley’s improvement on the offensive end this season was undeniable, even if some of his per game numbers were slightly lower. His defense was still a disaster, but his absence undoubtedly hurt a Kings team that was already lacking depth. Whatever flaws exist in Bagley’s game, the Kings are still a better team with him than without.
Perhaps this is the shove that sends the Kings falling further down the standings and secures a top-level draft pick. Perhaps this encourages the Kings to become full-on sellers at the deadline. All of that could happen, but the Kings are going to be one year closer to making a decision on Marvin Bagley’s future with the team, and once again won’t have the benefit of a full season to evaluate him.
Here’s hoping Marvin has a speedy recovery.