Rookie Ladder: Bigger role may be brewing for Kings' Bagley

NBA.com Global on Jan 25, 2019 07:48 AM
Rookie Ladder: Bigger role may be brewing for Kings' Bagley
FILE - NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 19: Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Sacramento Kings dunks the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 19, 2018 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)

By Drew Packham, NBA.com

It may be time for the Kings to unleash No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III.

Kings coach Dave Joerger has been reluctant to give his prized pick big minutes early in the season, opting instead to roll with veteran Nemanja Bjelica and bring Bagley off the bench.

But with Bjelica nursing a sore back Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time), Bagley got the first start of his career and showed he may be ready for an increased role.

The forward from Duke scored 22 points on 10-for-20 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots in a 120-105 loss to the Raptors.

"I'm really impressed with what he's done with his game," Joerger said. "The sky is the limit for Marvin. He's going to be a heck of a player for us."

At 24-24, the Kings are 10th in the Western Conference, but only two games back of the 8th playoff spot. On the season, Bagley is averaging 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game. The 19-year-old, who also has six double-doubles in 2018-19, is saying all the right things about his role.

“I love playing and being out there,” Bagley told James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win. We came up short tonight, but every game I try and come out and play like it’s my last game.”

As the season rolls on and the Kings potentially fade in the tough West, stay tuned to see how Bagley’s role changes.

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1. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Last week: No. 1

Doncic had one of the worst shooting weeks of his young career, so it’s no wonder he was in a jersey-tearing mood. In three games, Doncic averaged 14 points, but was just 2-for-18 from three-point land (11.1 percent) and 30.4 percent overall. He had just the fourth single-digit game of his career (eight points in a 111-99 loss to the Pacers). Doncic, of course, only played 24 minutes after being ejected in the third quarter for kicking the ball into the stands. Doncic claims he was just trying to juggle the ball, and later got hit with a $10,000 fine. "I wasn't playing well,'' Doncic explained. "For sure, it was one of the worst games I've played this season, so yes, I was frustrated. I didn't know I would be ejected because there are different rules in Europe." Doncic followed that with the first triple-double of his career with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He became the second-youngest to ever tally a triple-double, just 10 days older than Markelle Fultz, who accomplished it last season.

2. Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

Last week: No. 2

Ayton only played two games this week, putting up a big line of 15 points, 17 reounds, two steals and two blocks in a loss to the Raptors, then suffered a sprained ankle in Saturday’s (Sunday, PHL time) loss to the Hornets. Ayton played just 22 minutes before leaving with the injury. Ayton has been reliable all season, but missed the past two games and will likely miss more time as the Suns will most likely be cautious with their franchise big man.

3. Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings

Last week: Not ranked

Bagley jumps into the Top 5 thanks to a solid start to the new year. Bagley returned Jan. 7 (Jan. 8, PHL time) after missing 11 games with a bone bruise in his left knee. Since his return, the No. 2 pick has scored in double digits in six of the eight games, averaging 12.8 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor.

4. Allonzo Trier, New York Knicks

Last week: Not ranked

Trier burst onto the scene early this season, but fell out of the Knicks’ rotation when he missed eight games in December with a hamstring injury. Trier returned on Christmas, and this week finally showed glimpses of the early-season scorer that stole New York’s hearts. The undrafted rookie averaged 20 points, six rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.3 steals in his last three games and nearly helped the Knicks weather James Harden’s 61-point night Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) at Madison Square Garden. Trier scored 31 points on 12-for-18 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds to become the first Knicks rookie to top 30 and 10 since Patrick Ewing in 1985-86. Prior to Wednesday’s incredible outburst, Trier nearly saved the Knicks in London on Jan. 17 (Jan. 18, PHL time). However, his last-second block attempt was ruled a goaltend, giving the Wizards a 101-100 win. Still, coach David Fizdale loved the effort. “It was almost a game-winning, game-saving block,” Fizdale said. “That he didn’t give up on the play says a lot about the kid.”

5. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

Last week: No. 3

Young had his first single-digit scoring game since Jan. 2 (Jan. 3, PHL time), scoring five points on 1-for-12 shooting (1-for-7 on 3s) in Wednesday’s (Thursday, PHL time) 121-101 win against the Bulls. Even with his shooting woes, Young still handed out 12 assists and grabbed seven rebounds in the victory. I feel like I say this every week, but after a solid showing last week, Young came down to earth over the last three games, hitting just 3-of-19 three-pointers.

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Just missed the cut:

Landry Shamet, Philadelphia 76ers

Shamet had a nice week, scoring 18 points in a win against the Rockets, then scoring 14 to help the Sixers rally past the Spurs. Over four games this week, Shamet was 11-for-17 from beyond the arc. Shamet only sees about 20 minutes per game, but he’s become a major contributor for the East contenders, making his contributions all the more impressive.

Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are listening to offers for Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, which means we might see even more from their young star. Memphis is in a tailspin, but Jackson has scored in double digits in 11-of-12 games in January. In four games this week, the No. 4 pick averaged 17 points on 48 percent shooting (44.4 on three's).

Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks

Huerter falls out of the Top 5 this week after missing a pair of games with a sore neck. Huerter is having an impressive month, averaging 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists while seeing his playing time rise to 37.5 minutes per game.

Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets

The Nets have won five straight, and although Kurucs has seen his playing time dip, he’s still producing and doing all of the little things. Kurucs scored 13 points with a steal and block Wednesday (THursday, PHL time) as Brooklyn beat Orlando to keep its win streak alive. That showing followed a 16-point outing by Kurucs in Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) win against the Kings.

Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves’ surprise rookie averaged 11.7 points this week, thanks in large part to a career-high 21-point outburst in the Wolves’ 118-91 win against the Suns on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Okogie was 7-for-11 from the field, hitting 4-of-7 three-pointers and had five rebounds and a pair of steals.

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(All stats through Thursday, Jan. 24, PHL time)

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