Sacramento Kings forward/center Marvin Bagley will always have a long last name. He’ll always be known as “The Man the Kings Drafted Instead of Luke Doncic.”
That was back in 2018, when the Kings selected Bagley with the No. 2 overall pick, one spot ahead of Doncic, now considered one of the NBA’s brightest young stars with the Dallas Mavericks.
Since that time, Bagley has been considered largely a bust, and recently, has been at the center of trade rumors. Even Bagley is probably surprised that he is back with the Kings.
But Bagley is aiming to shed all that negativity by putting in extra work with former Kings guard Doug Christie, now an assistant on Luke Walton’s Sacramento coaching staff.
“I love it,” Bagley said of working with Christie. “I love basketball and to be with somebody who loves the game just as much and can talk the game through and teach me little things that I maybe didn’t know before and just continue to talk through the game, that’s something that I love.
“And that’s what he’s been able to do for me since I’ve been here. He’s been showing me a lot of different things on the court, different drills, small things like learning how to use my body, just stuff I can take with me and use to be able to be a better player.”
Bagley hasn’t been terrible. He averaged 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds in 43 games last season. He just hasn’t been Doncic. And there’s no telling whether Bagley is anything more than a solid big man on a non-playoff team.
Still, Walton insisted Bagley is making strides — with the coach adding he expects that to continue.
“He had a career year last year,” Walton told reporters Monday. “There’s always going to be distractions. Nothing ever runs perfectly smooth, but that’s part of it. That’s how you grow. That’s how a team grows. You go through different things.
“The progress he made last season before he got hurt, continued to work this summer and we come into camp. He’s tall, he’s versatile, he’s skilled, athletic. These are all things we’re excited to see. Again, this is where it’s great to talk about all these things, but where it really comes in is watching it live in camp tomorrow. We’re thrilled to have him here and excited about working with him.”
Follow Sam Amico @AmicoHoops