‘It’s kind of hard to accept failure.’ Meet Marvin Bagley III, a favorite for Kings’ No. 2 pick
The Kings had a lot of young players last season, but too many nights, the Kings were a young team that played with low energy.
To be a good rebounder, there's no time for timid play. Duke's Marvin Bagley III knows this after one season of college basketball, one in which the freshman was among the best in the country on the glass.
"Heart," is how Bagley described his approach to rebounding. "And that's just pretty much it. Just having the will to go out there and want to play your hardest. You see the ball bounce off the rim, go get it, no matter what. That's kind of how I attack the game."
The Kings, who hold the second overall pick in the NBA draft, hosted Bagley for an individual pre-draft workout Monday at Golden 1 Center.
The Kings have needs on the roster, most notably at small forward. But with no current All-Stars on the team, it's impossible to rule out any player, even though the Kings have drafted big men in the last three drafts. That's because Bagley, a consensus All-American, could have All-Star potential.
"I can do a lot of different things — I'm not just one-dimensional," Bagley said. "I can go inside and out and create for my team. I can be a leader, a positive leader, lead by example and, most importantly, compete."
Aside from his size (6-foot-11, 234 pounds), athleticism and production (21 points, 11.1 rebounds per game last season), the Kings can benefit from players who bring the intensity to compete every night.
Bagley is generally considered among the top-three prospects in the draft, along with Arizona center Deandre Ayton and Slovenian swingman Luka Doncic.
Bagley believes he is the best player in the draft and, based on his workout schedule, he doesn't plan to wait long to be selected. He's already worked out for the Phoenix Suns, who have the top pick, and has a workout scheduled with the Atlanta Hawks, who pick third.
"I like to compete and win and go hard every single day," Bagley said. "I put a lot of work into the game and it's kind of hard to accept failure. And just think that with the amount of work I put in, it's kind of hard for me to say that I'm not the best player in the draft. I mean that in the most humble way possible, but it's the type of competitive spirit that I have."
The Kings have a collection of young bigs, including first-round picks Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere and Harry Giles to go with veteran Zach Randolph, also a first-round pick by another team.
But if Sacramento is committed to taking the best player available, it might be hard to pass on Bagley, who said there's a lot more to his game he plans to show as a pro.
He's working on his footwork on defense, but also believes the NBA style of play will allow him to show a more diverse offensive game.
"More of the perimeter stuff, the ballhandling," Bagley said. "I was able to do a little, getting it off the rebound and pushing it, creating plays ... but I just want to be able to show I can do it at a high level consistently."
Bagley shared the frontcourt with another high-level prospect, forward/center Wendell Carter Jr., and said he prefers not to worry about whether he fits better as a power forward or center in the NBA. He prefers not to be labeled by a position.
"I just consider myself a basketball player," Bagley said. "Be able to make plays all over the court, be able to affect the game in many different ways. Saying that I'm (one) position kind of limits what I can do out there."
Bagley's freshman season was so dominant he became the second player, joining Duke's Jahlil Okafor in 2015, to win Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in the same season.
But there are critics who point to Bagley's defense as a weakness.
Bagley said Kings coach Dave Joerger gave him some pointers on defense and that he has been working to improve in that area. Bagley, however, would not classify himself as a bad defender.
"I don't know everything about the game, but I think that overall I'm a great defensive player and that's really where I stand with that," Bagley said. "You hear a lot of the talk about defense ... but I really just tried to lock in and focus and help my team in whatever way I could."