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Kings Pulse: Let’s talk about Marvin Bagley

After one of his best games of the season, we took a deep dive into Marvin Bagley's future with the Sacramento Kings.

The roller coaster ride continues for Sacramento Kings fans - the Kings won two straight games against teams desperate to avoid the play-in tournament, but we're all still waiting with bated breath for the results of Tyrese Haliburton's MRI. In the absence of news about Sacramento's star rookie, Brenden Nunes and I had a chat about the return of Marvin Bagley, who came back from a 23 game absence on Friday and had one of his best games of the season on Sunday against the Mavericks - 23 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 10 of 16 from the field, with some right-handed shots to boot.

The Mavericks game featured some real flashes of the player that Bagley optimists, myself included, always hoped he could be. He was physical (especially on the glass), determined, and scored in multiple ways for a Kings team that really needed an offensive boost with both De'Aaron Fox and Haliburton out (Tyrese left the game in the 3rd quarter). But the flashes of potential don't hide the truth - we know these may be Bagley's final games as a Sacramento King, and if that is the case, it's a disappointment for all involved.

There are many reasons why Bagley's time in Sacramento may end this season, and Brenden and I covered nearly all of them in the pod - from the Kangz organization that drafted him, to his own sky-high expectations for himself, to the team's inability to optimize him on offense or defense, and his own failure to develop in certain areas of his game. But the endpoint of every conversation about Marvin Bagley as a basketball player is his health; we can highlight all his strengths and weaknesses as a player, but if he hadn’t missed nearly half of his career games (114 games played over the 218 games the Kings have played since drafting him) and hundreds of hours of team practice due to feet, hand, and wrist injuries, we’d be talking about a totally different player.

That all said, it's not impossible that Bagley returns next year - he's on the books for $11.3 million next season and is still only 22 years old. Perhaps the next Kings head coach would want to work with Bagley and make this whole mess work. But if the Kings want to re-sign Richaun Holmes this summer and he ends up with contract offers outside of the range they can pay him, Bagley may be easier to move to get capspace than either Buddy Hield or Harrison Barnes.

Do you want to see Marvin Bagley in a Kings uniform next year? What are your hopes and expectations for him over the rest of the season? Let us know in the comments.

The Kings Pulse podcast is available on all major listening platforms.

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May 4, 2021 9:37 am

I honestly have no recollection of anyone discussing Marvin Bagley as a potential MVP candidate when he was drafted. There was some discussion of whether he might be an all-star one day, as is typical with high picks, but MVP? I just don’t remember anything like that.

May 4, 2021 9:45 am
Reply to  Bryant

That doesn’t seem like a particularly novel thing for a nineteen year old to say after being drafted. Did anyone with something like objectivity ever say such a thing?

May 4, 2021 9:51 am
Reply to  Bryant

No worries, I appreciate the clarification. And I do understand the tyranny of a live microphone. It’s as likely as not that you did say it, and I missed it. I am, in theory, working.

May 4, 2021 9:49 am
Reply to  andy_sims
May 4, 2021 9:50 am
Reply to  Jman1949

Again, anyone credible?

May 4, 2021 10:01 am
Reply to  andy_sims

Grant Napear said it too, and no he isn’t credible. I don’t see why that is a criteria. Multiple people in Bagley’s camp and around the team were saying the same ridiculous thing.

May 4, 2021 10:24 am
Reply to  Carl

Since you’ve mentioned them in comparison to Napear, I think that you’re implying that Kings employees and Marvin Bagley’s relatives are somehow credible or objective.

And of course credibility matters. Otherwise, you’re taking in every offered opinion and treating them as equally valid. There’s a guy on here who took time out of his own day to create the user name Anyone But Bagley. While we’re free to theorize about the dismal nature of his personal life, I don’t think I’m going to put a lot of weight behind any comments that he has about Marvin Bagley. And his opinions on the subject may be dead-on once in awhile (it could happen), but to not factor in the obvious biases behind them is incredibly naive.

“Why is that a criteria?” Congratulations, I was not expecting that.

May 4, 2021 10:32 am
Reply to  Carl

I don’t think it’s necessarily ridiculous, in that he was the #2 pick in what was regarded as a decent NBA draft.

I mean, in hindsight most of these draftees’ goals seem ridiculous, but Bagley & Co.’s beliefs in his ceiling aren’t out of the norm.

May 4, 2021 11:44 am
Reply to  Otis

And frankly, I have zero problem with that confidence. Virtually, every actual MVP has had that swagger, even when they were drafted.

When a player’s ego becomes problematic (especially if their skills / impact don’t match their ego), then we tend to look at those statements and treat them as some foreboding sign and fall into confirmation bias. But frankly, to be one of the most elite players in the world (which every NBA player is), you need that type of belief in yourself, especially if you are good enough to be an early lottery pick.

Ultimately, very similar to how we view interests outside of basketball. When you have a player with a poor work ethic or poor development like WCS – fans are quick to vilify any mention of interests outside of basketball (like his painting). However, elite players and all time greats have had tons of interests off the court including Jordan (golf), Curry (golf), Kobe (piano), Lillard (rap), LeBron (global branding, acting), etc.

May 4, 2021 2:50 pm

I liked that after the Dallas game during his interview, when they tried to bait him by asking about when he’d have some new tracks, he told them that’s all on hold til after the season.

May 4, 2021 12:57 pm
Reply to  Carl

Grant never said Bagley could be an MVP candidate in his first year…or are you saying a MVP player at some point? Anyone picked at the #2 spot should have MVP potential.

May 4, 2021 1:41 pm
Reply to  Carl

I checked out Napear the other day and he is really enjoying this disaster. Also shows you how much of a soulless shill he was for years in his never-ending defense of Vlade, Vivek and all things Kings.

May 4, 2021 11:37 am
Reply to  andy_sims

Well, Vlade Divac said… oh wait, sorry.

May 4, 2021 12:21 pm

He could play the 3 ..

May 4, 2021 9:49 am
Reply to  andy_sims

I’m doing my own thread here apparently.

The discussion of whether Bagley may be playing his last games here seems premature. In order to facilitate having money for Holmes (or whoever), salary has to be freed up. With Bagley earning $11 mil next season, you’ll most likely have to take back considerable salary and/or draft picks. I think there are teams that would take a flyer for Marvin, but I don’t think anyone is going to include a decent draft spot in return.

With a year left, barring some surprising offer, betting that Bagley will be on the roster in the fall seems like a safe wager. These final games this season will, for better or worse, weigh heavily on what the team wants to do, and what they may or may not be able to do.

May 4, 2021 9:56 am
Reply to  andy_sims

Really good point about Bagley’s very limited exposure to pick & roll offense, particularly at Duke. It’s odd that there doesn’t appear to have been any emphasis on trying it. As you said, he is an elite athlete among elite athletes, and should be at least as good as Holmes in finishing them.

It’s another count in the indictment of Walton.

May 4, 2021 1:37 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

I think Walton preferred to use Holmes in the pick and roll instead of Bagley because Holmes isn’t a three point shooter. Putting Bagley in the corner draws a big away from the lane so the spacing is better for pick and roll plays. Also Holmes is better at setting screens and is a good finisher as well. It does hamper Bagley’s development a bit. He probably should be used more in those plays when he and Holmes aren’t on the court together. Just my thoughts for what it’s worth.

May 4, 2021 10:06 am
Reply to  andy_sims

With Bagley earning $11 mil next season, you’ll most likely have to take back considerable salary and/or draft picks.

Disagree. I don’t see any reason you can’t deal Bagley for a lower-drafted, lower salary young player in his first few seasons, who looks like a rotation player to possible starter. That cuts salary.

I think there are teams that would take a flyer for Marvin, but I don’t think anyone is going to include a decent draft spot in return.

Agreed when we’re talking about picks. I think at best you get a late first and a year of a player you don’t necessrily want (think Tony Snell).

These final games this season will, for better or worse, weigh heavily on what the team wants to do,

If a small sample of games at the end of his third season determines his fate with the team, that’s just bad management. He’s been here three years. They should be able to figure out what they have by now.

May 4, 2021 10:29 am
Reply to  Carl

Okay, then I guess we’ll take into account this entire season, where he’s been pretty productive. You’re right, that is a more sound approach to evaluating him.

And do you really not see any reason that another team might not want to trade a rotation player/possible starter for a player who has been injured a lot, and who is likely to get a raise this summer? If your selling point is potential, then it makes more sense to keep him. Under a competent coach, his odds of becoming a consistent contributor would likely get much shorter.

May 4, 2021 10:34 am
Reply to  Carl

I have a hard time seeing the team getting anything for Marvin in the offseason that would be better than just keeping him and seeing what happens. At the trade deadline? Possibly, but his upcoming RFA status makes that complicated.

May 4, 2021 10:47 am
Reply to  Otis

comment image

May 4, 2021 11:52 am
Reply to  Otis

I agree with you. A great offer? Take it.

But players with his physical gifts and basketball potential don’t come to Sacramento that often. If the choice is getting a 2nd round pick or a marginal prospect like Knox versus keeping Bagley and risking him leaving for nothing – I’d prefer the latter.

Especially post-Walton, there is a non-zero chance he starts to his his upside. And while he will never justify the use of the 2nd pick (over Doncic), he can still be a very good two way basketball player.

May 4, 2021 11:49 am
Reply to  andy_sims

With Bagley earning $11 mil next season, you’ll most likely have to take back considerable salary and/or draft picks. I think there are teams that would take a flyer for Marvin, but I don’t think anyone is going to include a decent draft spot in return.

Agreed, and if possible, I would rather find another way to shed salary if the returns are going to be that low.

Young players have a history of greatly accelerating their development after they get away from Walton. Have point out on Twitter that you have:

Randle – All Star
Ingram – All Star
Russell – All Star
Clarkson – 6th man contender
Nance – Solid starter
Zubac – Solid starter / rotation big

Ball is probably the only player to really develop in LA. While it’s not fair to say that Randle for example should have been an All Star when he was younger (he has worked very hard to improve his game), the fact that most of these guys were seen as busts or were getting relegated to spot minutes before almost instantly looking like legitimate prospects after leaving says something.

So sure, if we get a great offer for Bagley, I have no problem moving on, especially if another player fits Monte’s vision better (i.e., the rumored offer he made for Bey). But I’m not really excited about giving up on a Walton-coached player with this much potential just to get the 25th pick in the draft or Kevin Knox and a 2nd round pick. That just seems like poor asset management to me.

May 4, 2021 10:47 am

So fans are trying to talk themselves into Marvin after one good game against Boban and Powell, two immobile plodders on the second of a back-to-back, that’s cute.

Marvin did show some things last game but it is fools gold. Even an idealized version leaves a lot to be desired. The best version of him with the most rose colored glasses on is “meh” because even as a dominant scorer he doesn’t defend or pass, has no go-to move, can’t set a pick, can’t hold his low post position. So his scoring does not project as effecient.

This is all going to magically get fixed under a new coach and run of health?

And look at the limited minutes Metu has played over his career, is that being used as an excuse for his development? Would you rather have Holmes and Metu or Bagley and NO Holmes, bc that is what it may come down to. It is a no-brainer. Metu is getting 2M vs Marvin 11M next year, is Marvin 5X the value or Metu?

Uh, no, Marvin is ZERO times the value of Metu!

Marvin is a one dimensional player that lacks power and savvy. The best elite bigs over the years have power or savvy, or put another way, force vs skill. The protoype in terms of force would be Shaq or Karl Malone or Moses Malone. The prototype in terms of savvy would be a Kevin McHale, or Hakeem Olajuwon or a modern player like Karl Towns. Of course you have the hybrid too, power plus skill, but for sake of this lets stick with a dualistic premise.

Is Marvin going to become elite because of power and force? No friggen chance. He does not have the superior physical profile, besides leg speed and quick jump, seemingly detests physicality, has average hands, not the vice grip like Boogie or Otis Thorpe (another old school player), cant hold his position on the post, and lacks a mean streak.

Power players also sacrifice their body, know they give more than they take. Marvin wants no part of this. To be clear, he did get credit for drawing charges earlier in the year, but this is because he backs so far off his man, the player is drooling over the prospects of attacking his paper mache defense, so he gets super aggressive with so much space to attack this can sometimes result in a charge.

Is Marvin going to become elite because of skill and savvy? No friggen chance. Players with savvy see the play before it develops, like Ty. Marvin sees the play after it develops. Savvy players have countless counter moves to everything the defense tries to throw at you. Now maybe there is more in Marvin’s “bag of tricks”, like Fox has shown this year, but so far his bag of tricks is cobwebbed and barren!

His spin move is predictable methodical and works 1 out of 5 times. He is a straight line driver to one side with NO change of pace or change of direction. He did show a semi-Euro step vs Mavs with a right hand finish. That is the type of move I am talking about, only took 100 games, look for it again in 2023. Marvin does not even have a good pump fake or jab step. It is all rudimentary skills (non-savvy) that only worked against Div 1 lightweights.

Getting the defender off balance? Fuggetaboutit. Crossover dribble? Nope! One dribble pullup? Ya kidding right. Meanwhile Metu has the one dribble pullup and he was shutting down Anthony Davis in his first career start, before he took his nasty spill.

You can try to talk yourself into Marvin bc he just turned 22, played only half of his pro games, and if he adds 15 pounds of muscle he can hold his position better on both ends. This is the assertion I have made many times. But you still have the fundamental flaws as a player that are NOT going away.

And in a larger context we don’t even need his optimized skillset. We need a black hole scoring PF and not much else? No, we need playmaking and dirty work player with spot scoring ability, a beast on the boards, and defensive presence in the paint. Metu fits that profile far more readily than Marvin.

And like the guys on the Pod said, his pick and roll game is trash and that is not just for lack of coaching emphasis.

This argument “he is making incremental progress, lets give him one more year to put it altogether….” is complete bullshit sentimentality. I have no time for this mode of thinking. That is not how a real GM gms.

It is a matter of risk vs reward and opportunity cost, and anticipating the most probabilistic future path. McGenius gets it, which is why he tried to trade him for an obscure player only hardcore NBA fans heard of. Still I want to see Bagley play like he did vs Mavs, as unlikely as that is, for the rest of the season, only because it will make it easier to trade him for another 1st round pick and we can draft Jalen Johnson AND Franz Wagner!

I will say this, if Marvin plays like he did vs Mavs for 5 games, no, not even that, 3 games in a row, where he is scoring meaningful scores in the context of a competitive game, we can reconsider his future with the team. That’s not going to happen. With Ty and Fox down, Kyle Guy will go for 25 points before Marvin does, book it !

May 4, 2021 11:42 am

I’d trade him.

May 4, 2021 12:04 pm
Reply to  eddie41

De’aaron Fox’s dad would agree with you

May 4, 2021 12:02 pm

He wants out and the organization wants him out. These last ten games mean basically nothing; if they did Ray McCallum and Skal would’ve stuck around longer than they did. If anything, playing well makes it more likely someone takes a flier on him with a late first rounder or a couple spots in the draft.

And I don’t really want to sink more time, money, and coaching into an oft-injured egomaniac net negative big with an outdated game that has helped get a coach fired and has an annoying camp.

May 4, 2021 12:03 pm

The kid is getting better, you don’t get better magically, we have to give him some credit for improvements. I don’t really care about the past debacles of picks and thoughts of glory, I am interested in the now. The now is $$$, Could experts here help me understand the money/QO/RFA part? This is hypothetical no trade scenario
.. $11M next season 21/22

.. During 21/22 Kings can make QO of $14M
.. 22/23 RFA Kings can match any offer
.. During 21/22 Kings does not make QO
.. 22/23 UFA – MB walks for nothing.

Is this correct? Thanks

May 4, 2021 12:09 pm

It was definitely refreshing watching him play couple of nights ago but I’ve got to ask that question: “what was he doing with his right hand while nursing his injuries the last two seasons?” It’s one thing team Bagley aka the greatest coach ever didn’t take upon themselves to coach Bagley about the usefulness of his right hand, but it is totally another when Bagley himself can’t or won’t take this glaring issue seriously. Sure he’s got potential but call me a skeptic.

May 4, 2021 2:55 pm
Reply to  02kingsfan

“I like what he’s done recently, but what about all of those times that he didn’t do what I like?”

I would suggest that the more recent improvements are more important than past perceived failures. As ever, it’s about, what have you done for me lately?

May 4, 2021 1:17 pm

None of his injuries were in critical areas which is good. Rash of bad luck? it happens. He still seems to be growing, despite all the stops and starts. I’ll like to see him for another year in a Kings uniform. It would kill me for him to flourish just as we let him go.

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