Kings rookie Marvin Bagley III played well in his NBA debut, but he didn’t play much.
Bagley, the second pick in June’s NBA Draft, logged only 12 minutes in a 123-117 loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. The 6-foot-11 power forward finished with six points on 3-of-6 shooting with five rebounds, posting per 36-minute numbers of 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Kings coach Dave Joerger said it will be “tough” to find more minutes for Bagley in a crowded frontcourt that also includes Willie Cauley-Stein, Nemanja Bjelica, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles III.
Bjelica started at power forward and impressed in his Kings debut, delivering 18 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes. Jackson came off the bench to play 31 minutes despite scoring just eight points on 4-of-10 shooting, and about one-third of his minutes came at the power forward position.
Joerger has previously stated that stretch 4s – power forwards who can shoot from outside – create better floor spacing for lightning quick guards such as De’Aaron Fox. He has also said that Cauley-Stein was at his best in the preseason when Jackson, a small forward, slid over to the power forward spot.
After Wednesday’s game, Joerger was asked if it will be difficult to find increased minutes for Bagley with Bjelica and Jackson both logging minutes at power forward.
“It’s going to be tough,” Joerger said. “I thought he did fine. The game’s moving really, really fast for him, especially defensively, especially against stretch guys and threes and twos, sometimes. ... It just takes time and experience.”
Bagley did not seem content with the distribution of minutes.
“I obviously want to play,” Bagley told The Athletic. “I’ve been playing this game a long time. I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Bagley added he was pleased with his performance, even if the playing time wasn’t what he expected.
“It felt good,” he said. “Tried to make the most of when I did get out there. I just tried to play hard, any minutes that I had, just tried to go as hard as I could.”
Offseason acquisitions: The Kings got key contributions from Bjelica and guard Yogi Ferrell, their two big free-agent acquisitions.
Bjelica made 8 of 12 field-goal attempts. Ferrell made two 3-pointers to fuel an 18-2 third-quarter run, including one that gave the Kings a 75-73 lead. The two of them combined for 30 points.
Bjelica signed a three-year, $20.5 million contract with the Kings after spending his first three NBA seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ferrell agreed to a two-year, $6.2 million contract with the Kings after two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks.
Jackson’s move to power forward: Jackson was asked about his transition to logging minutes at power forward and how it helps the team.
“The way we play, it’s a lot more opened, so it’s not a ton of sets that I have to learn,” he said. “I think it helps also with spacing. Obviously, having (Bjelica) out there to stretch helps as well. Guys are able to get into the seams a little easier.”