Vlade Divac on picking Marvin Bagley III
If there's one man who bristles at the national narrative — NBA draft prospects avoid Sacramento like the plague — it's Jerry Reynolds.
That sort of talk is more myth than truth these days, Reynolds said. He has lived in the region since 1985 when the Kings relocated from Kansas City.
Reynolds has served in a variety of roles with the Kings, including as head coach, team executive and color analyst.
"It's a national media thing —– and it's a cheap shot," Reynolds said while taking a break from working the crowd at Golden 1 Center on Thursday during an electrified draft scene after the Kings selected Marvin Bagley III second overall.
"A lot of players wind up living here for a lot of years, which tells you how much they love it here. It really ticks me off that we keep hearing this because it's just not true."
ESPN reporters, including draft insider Jay Bilas, this week suggested that a bad culture lingers in Sacramento, thus concerning draft prospects and their agents.
That might have been true in the locker room during some of the strained DeMarcus Cousins seasons. But longtime Kings radio voice and talk show host Grant Napear said on the air and in social media this week that the Kings culture in the locker room last season was the best since the early 2000s, when the Kings were in their Sacramento heyday.
Napear on Twitter challenged Bilas' claim that last year's No. 1 pick for the Kings — De'Aaron Fox — walked into a dysfunctional locker room. Bilas wondered if anything had changed. Bilas replied with two Tweets to Napear: "Sorry, I differ. Maybe you can argue it is better than it used to be, but it's still not good," and with, "So, your preference is to refer to it as a dysfunctional organization? Sold."
Coach K voice – Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has raved about Bagley, a first-team All-American last season when he set a number of freshman records for the Blue Devils.
"I know a scout who knows Coach K well," Reynolds said. "Coach K told him that Bagley, before the season, he has the talent to be the best big man he's ever had. I think Coach K knows basketball a little."
Krzyzewski after one game last season called Bagley "the most unique player we've had here at Duke during my 38 years."
"He wants to learn. He has no demons. He's a great kid, he's smart, and has an incredible motor. He never has a bad day," Krzyzewski said at the postgame news conference. "He's a treasure, really. He's going to be one of the great players in the NBA during his time."
Admirable praise – Retired San Antonio Spurs great David Robinson, or "the Admiral," watched nearly every Duke game as his son, Justin, was on the roster.
He regularly got a close-up view of Bagley, telling ESPN during the season that the 6-foot-11 forward has the promise of greatness.
"He reminds me a little bit of Tim Duncan in being so mature with the ball," Robinson said. "He's got the same composure as a young Tim. I saw Tim in college at Wake Forest, and he was phenomenal in terms of being patient. He never got rattled, and that's Bagley. He's the same way. Fantastic kid."
Bagley pro tour – Bagley's first basketball run against men was in the famed Drew League in Los Angeles last summer following his lone season at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth.
He went against professionals and ex-pros, leaving Drew League Chief Financial Officer Mika McCaa to tell the Los Angeles Times, "In 44 years, he's had the most impact of any high school player I've witnessed."
Social media fun – Social media was revved up leading into the draft, predictably, and @SacTownBabyGiraffe noted on Twitter that the Kings' perceived top picks had interesting birth nostalgia.
Luka Doncic was born on Feb. 28, 1999, when the Kings did not play. Michael Porter Jr. was born on June 29, 1998, when the Kings were idle.
And his slam dunk: Bagley was born on March 14, 1999. The Kings played, beating the Lakers.
Also on Twitter, @NBADraftGod learned well before the draft that the daughter of Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive — Anjali — was only following one Kings draft target on Instagram: Bagley.