The Sacramento Kings were one of the NBA teams many people thought we’d see some improvement from in the 2020-21 season. Many believed they could challenge for one of the play-in spots in the Western Conference, but thus far, they have fallen short of those expectations.
Heading into the second half of the season, Sacramento has a record of 14-22, third to last in the Western Conference, and 3.5 games out of a play-in spot. While they have a chance to still make a run, it is a tall task given how they have performed thus far this season.
Their defense has been abysmal and they could move veterans Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes at the trade deadline. De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton get people excited about the future backcourt, but their other recent lottery selection, Marvin Bagley III, leaves a lot to be desired.
The No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft has not lived up to expectations. Bagley carries immense pressure as the Kings selected him over Luka Doncic, who has already cemented himself among the elite players in the league. It’s not Bagley’s fault the Kings selected him so high, but he will be judged accordingly because of it.
Sacramento has sent out trade feelers for him, but thus far, they have not received any offers close to what they are looking for.
“The flipside of that is the Kings have been open to talking about Marvin. My understanding is the offers have been just nothing to write home about at all. I’ve talked to other executives about this, Marvin’s owed $11 million for next year, and I think it’s a $14 million qualifying offer as he goes into restricted free agency. That’s the problem with being that high of a pick.”
Marvin Bagley III has battled injuries throughout his NBA career but has done better staying healthy this season. He has struggled to pick up the defense at this level, as players bully him in the paint or blow by him on the perimeter when he is matched with them.
The former Duke product has shown signs of improvement with his 3-point shot, but he still is inconsistent shooting the ball, given his 52.9 percent from the foul line.
There is also the issue with his father to deal with. Luke Walton thought he was done with this when he left the Los Angeles Lakers and LaVar Ball, but it has occurred again with Marvin Bagley III’s father.
“The stuff with his dad has not helped. It sends a strong message that even though Marvin hasn’t said it publicly, he’s never denounced what his father said. To be honest, it’s really awkward and uncomfortable. Marvin’s not a kid, but he’s a very young man, and that’s his father, so those dynamics are sensitive, but the bottom line is it sends the wrong message about his part in the Kings’ future.”
The Kings are open to him once again becoming a part of their core, and that is likely the route they will take. Throwing in the towel on the No. 2 pick during his third season would be short-sighted if they are not getting back what they feel to be fair value.
For now, Sacramento can only hope that he develops and they have a foundational piece for their frontcourt as they have in their backcourt.