Kings Blog

Kings go big in the draft like no other team. Why Marvin Bagley thinks he's worth it.

Marvin Bagley III does not want to be labeled by a position, even though most would call him a power forward.

Bagley's new employer seems to be on the same page. The Kings used the second-overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft on Bagley, a freshman from Duke whom they see as more than just a post player.

Bagley's measurables (6-foot-11, 234 pounds) are consistent with a power forward or even center, but Kings general manager Vlade Divac said Bagley's versatility and ability to play all three frontcourt positions were appealing.

"He can play small forward," Divac said. "He can play 3, 4 and 5. With Marvin's unique talent he can play multiple positions."

The Kings stand alone in their trend of adding big men through the draft. They're the only team to take a power forward or center in the first round in each of the last four years.

Bagley will look to show why he's different.

"I just think I can bring a lot to a team offensively and defensively, inside and out," Bagley said. "I was very confident in my game and my abilities. I know how much work I put in, how much I sacrificed for it. I'm definitely excited to show the world, my team and my teammates everything I can do."

Bagley, a consensus All-American and the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, impressed the Kings with his size, supreme athleticism (40 1/2-inch vertical leap), aggressive style of play and the fact that he's a student of the game who loves the weight room and film study.

Bagley averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds for Duke, one of only four players to average 20 points and 10 rebounds in the NCAA last season. Bagley became just the third player (Horace Grant, Tim Duncan) to lead the ACC in scoring, rebounding and field-goal percentage. He shot 61.4 percent from the field, 39.7 percent from 3, and 62.7 percent at the free-throw line.

Bagley believes he will be able to showcase his abilities in NBA in ways he didn't while playing for the Blue Devils. Those are skills that would allow Bagley to play on the perimeter.

"I'm just looking forward to showing every aspect of my game," Bagley said. "I'm an all-around player and (show) how comfortable I am with the ball, dribbling the ball, handling it, creating for teammates, making the right basketball play, just playing the game."

The Kings considered addressing their need on the wing with Slovenian guard/forward Luka Doncic and Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr., but turned to Bagley, who was also generally considered one of the top three players available.

Doncic is perhaps the best playmaker in the draft. He was selected third by Atlanta and traded to Dallas for the fifth pick (Trae Young) and a future first-round pick.

Porter was one of the top high school players in the country two years ago and, like Doncic, would have filled a need at small forward. Porter was selected 14th by Denver, largely due to health concerns. He played in only three games at Missouri because of back surgery.

Doncic, 19, was a popular choice among fans. He was the youngest EuroLeage MVP in history, a good passer and had an impressive record from his play in Europe, including leading Real Madrid to EuroLeague and Liga ACB titles this season.

"Marvin for us is a better fit, a better player and a great talent," Divac said. "It was an easy choice for us."

Bagley is an elite rebounder, which is a weakness of the Kings, and the team believes Bagley has the versatility to fit with the other bigs on the team.

On offense, the Kings see Bagley as a big man who can score out to the 3-point line and be a good offensive rebounder.

"I look at Marvin's all-around game," Divac said. "He was just hard to pass, the talent Marvin has. ... He can shoot, he can rebound, he can play in the low post. Really, really exciting about the player."

Bagley worked out for the Kings in Sacramento on June 11. In addition to his workout, he met with current Kings De'Aaron Fox and Harry Giles, whom he's known for some time from playing against them in high school.

"I had a good feeling about this team, the city, the direction they're trying to go," Bagley said. "I was just trying to hear everybody out and do whatever I could to have a good workout, and I'm glad they picked me. "

Help us bring you Kings news

The Kings traveled nearly 50,000 miles last season. So did Jason Jones, the only reporter who covers the team inside and out – at home and away. Help support our mission to bring you exclusive insight into Sacramento's only major pro sports team by subscribing today.
Your support makes our Kings coverage possible. Sign up now for just $1.99 for your first month of access.

Bagley said not being selected first "lit a fire" in him. Phoenix took Arizona center Deandre Ayton at No. 1 overall, an expected move.

"That's just the type of player I am; I'm going to have confidence in my game," Bagley said. "I still think I'm the best player in the draft. I stand by that and I put a lot of work into it and I'm glad I'll be able to show it with Sacramento. I'm super excited."

Some would argue the Kings' focus on big men in the draft runs counter to the NBA's trend of playing smaller, more skilled athletes and ignores their glaring need for a wing. Sacramento drafted small forward Justin Jackson last year and could still need more size on the wing rather than relying on guards to play against bigger small forwards.

The Kings selected Duke guard Gary Trent Jr. with their second-round pick, No. 37 overall, and traded his draft rights to the Portland Trail Blazers for two future second-round picks.

That the Kings picked another big is a testament to their excitement over Bagley, and it's also a reminder the previous picks have not panned out, or have yet to prove their worth.

Divac believes the collection of young bigs, along with veterans Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos, offer a lot of versatility.

"We are very excited to have that group competing and making each other better," Divac said.

Willie Cauley-Stein (sixth overall, 2015) is entering his fourth season, but has not distinguished himself as a cornerstone piece. Georgios Papagiannis (13th overall, 2016) was cut in February. Skal Labissiere (28th overall, 2016) spent time in the G League last season and hasn't shown he can be a consistent contributor.

The Kings are excited about Giles (20th overall, 2017), but he hasn't played yet after spending last season recovering from knee surgery that hampered him in his lone season at Duke.

Giles will make his Kings debut July 2 during a summer league tournament at Golden 1 Center.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee