Matthew Smith grew up snipping out pictures of his favorite Kings players from local newspapers to add to a collage on his wall — will Marvin Bagley III make the cut?
Bagley, who earned Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year as a freshman last season with Duke, was selected by the Kings with the second-overall pick in the NBA draft on Thursday.
Smith, 30, watched the decision play out with approximately 10,000 other Kings fans at the team’s NBA draft watch party at Golden 1 Center amid roaring celebration. However, he’s not quite sold yet and said he would’ve preferred Sacramento to select Slovenian swingman Luka Doncic.
“I liked Bagley too, but I was worried that he might have trouble switching on to smaller guys and he might get played off the floor in the playoffs, very similar to Rudy Gobert when he was playing against the Rockets (this past postseason) and I’m very worried that might be the case with Bagley,” Smith said.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Of the 10 Kings fans surveyed at the watch party, six believed the Kings should have taken Doncic — who was drafted at No. 3 overall by the Atlanta Hawks for the Dallas Mavericks.
“I would’ve liked to have seen the Kings pick Luka Doncic to play alongside another international player in Bogdan Bogdanovic,” said Nilan Watmore, a 32-year-old Sacramento resident. “The Kings had the most success when they had Vlade (Divac) and Peja (Stojakovic) and sort of that international unit, but the draft is a gamble.
“You can’t really say who’s going to be good in a year or two — nobody ever thought Steph Curry would be as good as he is now.”
The selection of Bagley, who is described by NBA scouts as a freakish athlete and an aggressive rebounder, marks the fourth consecutive year the Kings have acquired a big man in the first round of the draft. The stakes were heightened this year, however, as the team had the No. 2 pick for the first time in the Sacramento era.
“I like him,” said Daniel Fuchino, a 32-year-old Sacramento native. “He’s averaging 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds) in college, which is unheard of because college is a shortened game and you have all these star players trying to get the ball to show off their skills. And if you can do that with Wendell Carter Jr. (who went seventh overall to Chicago) right next to you and you’re still putting those numbers up, that’s pretty amazing to me.”
Smith, who has eagerly streamed Doncic’s EuroLeague games over the internet this past year, admits Bagley might make for a good fit with the Kings next season.
“I kind of like the idea of having Harry Giles, assuming he’s healthy, at the top of the key with his passing ability and then having Bagley in the post doing all the dirty work and … we’ll have to see in three years what happens,” Smith said.