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Report: Why the Kings drafted Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic

Kings, Marvin Bagley III, Luka Doncic

The enigma of the 2018 NBA Draft will always surround the eventual Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic. The Dallas Mavericks proved smarter than the bunch, trading up to get him with the third overall pick, but the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings will forever know shame after having higher selections and falling short of seeing his talent, instead opting to draft Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III, respectively.

The Suns were dead-set in drafting Ayton as he was a solid 20-10 product in college, but many had wondered why the Kings, a franchise with an international front office and a lot of overseas resources, didn’t roll the dice with Doncic.

The Kings reportedly scouted Doncic heavily, including a dinner with him led by owner Vivek Ranadive that also included his son, Aneel, and general manager Vlade Divac, according to Shams Charania, Sam Amick, and Jason Jones of The Athletic. Ranadive was impressed and supported a decision to pick Doncic at No. 2, but Divac, along with then-assistant general manager Brandon Williams and Peja Stojakovic, had concerns about his potential upside compared to Bagley, who played his lone college season at Duke.

Sacramento believed Doncic’s ball-dominance would hamper De’Aaron Fox’s growth as the point guard of the future and instead chose to go with Bagley, a big man who could complement him in the pick-and-roll.

The Kings weren’t necessarily wrong with that assessment, but they failed to predict that Doncic would be that far ahead of Fox in terms of a finished product. In Year 2, Doncic is already an MVP candidate while Fox is still working his way as one of the league’s up-and-coming point guards. Meanwhile, Bagley’s second season has been hampered with injuries.

That’s a stark contrast, considering the vast experience Luka Doncic had playing against grown men during his years in the EuroLeague and with Real Madrid — a mistake the Kings won’t live down.