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Season Review: Marvin Bagley III

Another injury-riddled season leaves Bagley's future with the Kings in doubt.

Coming into the 2020-21 season, there was perhaps no bigger question than how Marvin Bagley III would respond after a disappointing and injury-riddled sophomore season.  It was clear early on that the Kings were going to give him every opportunity they could, even inserting him into the starting lineup from Day 1.  Unfortunately for both Bagley and the Kings, his season left more questions than answers.

Bagley once again missed a significant chunk of time, playing just 43 of the team's 72 games.  After suffering a broken hand midway through the season, Bagley proceeded to miss the next month and a half, and in a curious move that still hasn't been made clear, decided to rehab away from the team back home in Arizona.  Reports seemed to indicate that the Kings were preparing to potentially move on from Bagley, with one rumor suggesting that the Detroit Pistons rejected a straight up swap of Bagley for rookie Saddiq Bey.

After the trade deadline came and went, it was unclear if Bagley would ever return to the lineup, but return he did, playing six games in early May.  These six games included perhaps his best performance yet, a 31 point, 12 rebound game against the Indiana Pacers in which he dominated the 1st half.

That performance was followed up by a 4 point and 2 rebound dud against the Spurs in a must-win game however, and in his next game, he suffered a groin injury that knocked him out for the final four games of the season.

Even without focusing on the various injuries, Bagley didn't show enough improvement this season to warrant a whole lot of optimism.  His statistics from this season are nearly identical to his rookie year:

2018-19: 14.9 PTS, .504 FG%, .313 3P%, 7.6 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.5 STL, 1.0 BLK in 25.3 MPG

2020-21: 14.1 PTS, .504 FG%, .343 3P%, 7.4 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.5 BLK in 25.9 MPG

The one area where Bagley did seem to have noticeably improved was with his three point shot, especially from the corner.  But other parts of his game seemed to drop off.  His touch near the basket, left a lot to be desired.  Per basketball-reference, he shot just 38.3% from the field between 3-10 feet.  Compare that to the ultra efficient Richaun Holmes, who made 55.2% of his attempts in that range.

Defensively, Bagley continued to be one of the worst defenders in the entire league.  Sacramento's league worst defense was even worse when Bagley was on the floor.  Per, opposing players shot 2.7% better when guarded by Bagley.  It's hard to dump too hard on Bagley for this though.  The Kings as a whole were a nightmare on defense, and that's not on any one individual player.

It's possible, maybe even probable, that Marvin Bagley III has played his last game in a Sacramento Kings uniform.  It seems clear that both sides want a fresh start, and Bagley will be on the books for $11.3 million next season that the Kings would probably want to allocate elsewhere.

Personally, I believe moving on from Marvin Bagley would be the right choice for all parties.  For the Kings, getting out of his salary might allow them to retain a player like Richaun Holmes.  For Bagley, the weight of "2nd pick" and "should have picked Luka" will be off his shoulders, at least partly.  Would it suck to see him flourish elsewhere? Sure.  But will he? History hasn't been kind to top picks that failed to get it going in their first few seasons.  Here's every top-10 pick from the last 15 years who was traded away or let go by their former team before their rookie contract was over:

  • Adam Morrison (2006 Pick No. 3)
  • Tyrus Thomas (2006 Pick No. 4)
  • Shelden Williams (2006 Pick No. 5)
  • Randy Foye (2006 Pick No. 7)
  • Patrick O'Bryant (2006 Pick No. 9)
  • Mouhamed Sene (2006 Pick No. 10)
  • Greg Oden (2007 Pick No. 1)
  • Jeff Green (2007 Pick No. 5)
  • Yi Jianlian (2007 Pick No. 6)
  • Corey Brewer (2007 Pick No. 7)
  • Brandan Wright (2007 Pick No. 8)
  • Spencer Hawes (2007 Pick No. 10)
  • Michael Beasley (2008 Pick No. 2)
  • Danilo Gallinari (2008 Pick No. 6 - Part of trade for Carmelo Anthony)
  • Eric Gordon (2008 Pick No. 7 - Part of trade for Chris Paul)
  • Joe Alexander (2008 Pick No. 8)
  • Hasheem Thabeet (2009 Pick No. 2)
  • James Harden (2009 Pick No. 3 - Oklahoma City received two 1st round picks and Kevin Martin in return)
  • Jonny Flynn (2009 Pick No. 6)
  • Jordan Hill (2009 Pick No. 8)
  • Evan Turner (2010 Pick No. 2)
  • Derrick Favors (2010 Pick No. 3 - Part of trade for Deron Williams)
  • Wesley Johnson (2010 Pick No. 4)
  • Ekpe Udoh (2010 Pick No. 6)
  • Al-Farouq Aminu (2010 Pick No. 8 - Part of trade for Chris Paul)
  • Derrick Williams (2011 Pick No. 2)
  • Enes Kanter (2011 Pick No. 3)
  • Jan Vesely (2011 Pick No. 6)
  • Brandon Knight (2011 Pick No. 8)
  • Jimmer Fredette (2011 Pick No. 10)
  • Dion Waiters (2012 Pick No. 4)
  • Thomas Robinson (2012 Pick No. 5)
  • Austin Rivers (2012 Pick No. 10)
  • Anthony Bennett (2013 Pick No. 1)
  • Victor Oladipo (2013 Pick No. 2 - Part of trade for Serge Ibaka)
  • Nerlens Noel (2013 Pick No. 6)
  • Trey Burke (2013 Pick No. 9)
  • Nik Stauskas (2014 Pick No. 8)
  • Noah Vonley (2014 Pick No. 9)
  • Elfrid Payton (2014 Pick No. 10)
  • D'Angelo Russell (2015 Pick No. 2 - Traded for Kyle Kuzma and Brook Lopez)
  • Jahlil Okafor (2015 Pick No. 3)
  • Mario Hezonja (2015 Pick No. 5)
  • Emmanuel Mudiay (2015 Pick No. 7)
  • Stanley Johnson (2015 Pick No. 8)
  • Brandon Ingram (2016 Pick No. 2 - Part of trade for Anthony Davis)
  • Dragan Bender (2016 Pick No. 4)
  • Kris Dunn (2016 Pick No. 5 - Part of trade for Jimmy Butler)
  • Buddy Hield (2016 Pick No. 6 - Part of trade for DeMarcus Cousins)
  • Marquese Chriss (2016 Pick No. 8)
  • Jakob Poeltl (2016 Pick No. 9 - Part of trade for Kawhi Leonard)
  • Thon Maker (2016 Pick No. 10)
  • Markelle Fultz (2017 Pick No. 1)
  • Lonzo Ball (2017 Pick No. 2 - Part of trade for Anthony Davis)
  • Josh Jackson (2017 Pick No. 4)
  • Dennis Smith Jr. (2017 Pick No. 9 - Part of trade for Kristaps Porzingis)

There's no doubt in my mind that Marvin Bagley can have a nice, long career in the NBA.  It just remains to be seen if that will be in Sacramento.

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June 9, 2021 8:11 am

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