The Sacramento Kings were the laughingstock of the NBA for over a decade. They are an organization that has not reached the playoffs since the 2005-2006 season, which stands as the longest postseason drought in basketball. Years and years of losing thanks to questionable decisions from ownership made the franchise infamous for its dysfunction and inability to please one of the league’s most passionate fanbases. Fortunately, the team finally took a step in the right direction last June when they decided to draft Marvin Bagley with the number two overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
At the time, some criticized Sacramento for drafting Bagley. Heading into the draft there were concerns about how Bagley would fit in today’s game as a big whose offensive game was post-oriented and who lacked elite athleticism. Also, during his year at Duke, he struggled defensively on occasion due to his underwhelming strength for an inside player. Someone like Luka Doncic seemed to make more sense for the Kings to draft due to the fact that they already had a crowded frontcourt. Players like Willie Cauley-Stein and Harry Giles were viewed as the team’s big men of the future.
It is safe to say that Marvin Bagley has proved most of his doubters wrong. In 59 games so far as a rookie this season, Bagley has averaged 14.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per night while shooting a solid 51.3% from the field. His numbers are even more impressive when one realizes that he is putting up these stats in just 25.1 minutes. Marvin Bagley has only started three games this season for the Sacramento Kings. Clearly, the coaching staff believes that he is more effective when matching up against team’s second units. Bagley is certainly putting up starter-caliber numbers, which will ultimately lead to him receiving more playing time in the near future. The Duke product has proven that he belongs in this league, and he is oozing with star potential.
Marvin Bagley’s insane potential was on display during a February 21st game against the Golden State Warriors in Oracle Arena. He finished the game with a monster stat line of 28 points and 14 rebounds in a 125-123 loss for Sacramento. Bagley dominated inside, finishing at the basket over and over despite being guarded by elite defenders such as Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala throughout. His beautiful footwork, when in the post, allowed Bagley to dominate on the block regardless of who was covering him. For a player who just turned twenty years old, Marvin Bagley plays the game with a tremendous amount of confidence and swagger. He exuded supreme confidence on the road against the back to back NBA champions.
Along with Bagley, the Sacramento Kings have played above everyone’s expectations heading into this season. The Kings first round draft pick is headed to the Boston Celtics this year as long as Sacramento does not receive the number one overall pick in the draft. Many assumed that Danny Ainge and company would once again luck out and land one of the top picks in the 2019 NBA Draft but as of now, that is looking very unlikely. Sacramento is currently the ninth seed in the Western Conference with a respectable 39-40 record but are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. However, this season will undoubtedly be viewed as a major success for the organization. They have already reached their highest win total for a season since the 2007-2008 campaign. Coach Dave Joerger has done a terrific job establishing a winning culture with this young team. He deserves praise for his ability to turn around the direction of the franchise.
Marvin Bagley and the Sacramento Kings will continue to improve over the coming years. Sooner rather than later, this team will be a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. Their young nucleus of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and obviously Bagley will learn first hand how to consistently win in this league. Of course, it is disappointing that they will likely not make the playoffs this season but fans of the Kings will no longer have to endure watching a non-competitive team. Led by Marvin Bagley and company, the Sacramento Kings are about to transition into an era of entertaining, winning basketball. The sky is the limit for the young big man and this team.