Sacramento Kings: An early evaluation of Marvin Bagley III

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Deandre Ayton and Wendell Carter Jr. have all turned heads and commanded attention. But what about Marvin Bagley III for the Sacramento Kings?

Despite being the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III’s name has gone under the radar among the rest of the rookie class early on. He might not put up eye-popping stats like Luka Doncic, Trae Young or Deandre Ayton, but he has quietly put together a solid career thus far.

In 17 games for the Kings, the former Blue Devil is averaging 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 22.8 minutes per game while shooting 51 percent from the floor.

For the Kings, he’s fourth on the team in scoring (if you don’t include Bogdan Bogdanovic, who’s only played six games) second in rebounds, first in offensive rebounds (2.6 per game), and leads the team in blocks. In fact, Bagley is the only player on the roster that’s even averaging at least one block.

Not bad, right?

As mentioned before, Bagley’s numbers aren’t as attractive as other notable rookies, but for his limited role, Bagley has given respectable production.

When looking at the rookie leaderboards, Bagley is fourth in rebounds per game, even while having played far less minutes than those above him; He’s played 129 fewer minutes than Ayton, 52 fewer than Wendell Carter Jr. and 154 fewer than Doncic. So, yeah, it’s a sizable difference.

Offensive rebounding has been one of Bagley’s best abilities. He has 44 total offensive rebounds on the season, which leads all rookies. His aggression on the glass has been one of the many bright spots of this young Kings team. He’s consistently battling down low and doing everything he can to give his team extra possessions.

One of the biggest concerns about Bagley coming out of college was his defense. While it’s obviously still really early, those concerns have been put to rest. That’s not saying he’s been a defensive terror on a night-to-night basis or anything, because he hasn’t, but by no means has he been a liability on that end as some had projected. There’s definitely some promise there.

Through 17 games, Bagley has 21 blocks — 10 more total blocks than Sacramento’s next best shot-blocker, Nemanja Bjelica. He has by far and away been their best rim protector.

Another encouraging area in Bagley’s game is his outside shooting. On the year, he’s 7-for-19 from 3, (36.8 percent). When comparing those numbers with other deep shooting bigs in his draft class, he’s made two more than Wendell Carter (five) on fewer attempts, and one less than both Mohamed Bamba and Jaren Jackson Jr., again on much fewer attempts. Him being able to stretch the floor is going to be a real weapon for the Kings moving forward.

When watching Bagley, you’ll notice he does a lot of his scoring close within the basket. He’s got a nice soft touch with that left-handed hook and 41.8 percent of his field goal attempts are from 0-3 feet out, according to Basketball-Reference. Impressively, he shoots a highly efficient 76.6 percent on those looks.

On the season, he’s converted on 71 made 2-point field goals (fourth-best among rookies) and is shooting 53 percent on them. The only other rookies above him that have shot a higher percentage on their made 2-point field goals are Ayton (61.7 percent) and Jackson (56.3 percent).

Other than distributing and playmaking, Bagley has shown us a little bit of everything in his skill-set. The next step for him is consistency. If he wants to earn more minutes and Dave Joerger’s trust in the rotation, he simply has to be more consistent.

Luckily, he had his best game of the season against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday:15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks on 6-of-11 shooting. Combine that with his performance against the Houston Rockets the previous game and Bagley is averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 61.9 percent from the floor in his last two games.

Oh, and there was also this wicked sequence from him in the fourth quarter.

Performances (and plays) like that are not only going to get him more playing time, but it’s even going to get him some praise around the rest of the league.

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And who knows? Maybe it’ll even get him a spot in the starting lineup.