Marvin Bagley III had a strong finish to the season after being shipped by the Sacramento Kings to the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline. One could argue that it was the best stretch of his injury-plagued NBA career since his rookie campaign.
While Bagley remains a solid player with versatility and athleticism, his largely empty stint with the Kings is hard to ignore. Most especially when he was selected ahead of Luka Doncic and Trae Young in the 2018 NBA Draft. It will forever be a bitter what-could-have-been for the Kings.
In a report by the Sacramento Bee, one former staff member of the Kings, who chose to remain anonymous, revealed the key reason why the squad was enamored of Bagley for the no. 2 overall pick.
The source said (team owner Vivek) Ranadive and (assistant general manager Brandon) Williams were driving forces behind the decision to draft Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic in 2018, but there was consensus within the organization because Bagley was a “modern-day big who could run the floor with De’Aaron Fox.”
To be totally objective, the Kings had a valid point. Bagley was indeed outstanding during his single season at Duke and truly looked like a great fit with Fox, who was drafted a year earlier. Having another guard in Doncic or Young, who were selected back-to-back after Bagley, alongside Fox wasn’t optimal.
But as they say, hindsight is 20-20. After making the All-Rookie First Team, Bagley’s career with the Kings spiraled, mostly due to injuries. Reportedly, he and former coach Luke Walton also didn’t really get along.
Bagley badly needed a change of scenery, and the Kings had to swallow another wrong decision.