The Sacramento Kings selected Marvin Bagley with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Bagley represents their highest pick in 29 years.
Sacramento’s been the NBA’s running joke for the past decade. A tempest of coaching and roster turnover constantly swirling in North Central California.
Despite all the tumult, their lottery picks haven’t amounted to surefire foundational players, mostly because they didn’t draft well. They took Tyreke Evans over Steph Curry, Truck Robinson over Damian Lillard, and Sauce Castillo (Stauskas? Stauskas?!?) over anyone useful on a basketball court. Combine those with a lack of continuity and it’s easy to see why the Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2005-06.
They haven’t been quite bad (or lucky) enough to sneak into the top three, but all that changed this year with them moving up to grab the two-spot. This is the highest Sacramento’s drafted since picking Pervis Ellison first overall in 1989.
They desperately to start moving in a cohesive, coherent direction. Finding a franchise cornerstone in this draft would be the first step on that path. It was hard to tell if all the Marvin Bagley talk was a smokescreen and gamesmanship on Sacramento’s part. Turns out it wasn’t.
Bagley presents himself as an athletic, matchup nightmare for most bigs and averaged 21.9 points and 11.6 rebounds as a freshman at Duke. However, his defense lags and gives many teams pause. His defensive shortcomings are what make him more likely to fail in the league, but he’s still very young and has the tools to do well on that end.
The passing on Luka Doncic is curious though. It feels like he has the upside to be truly special. I think this came down to not wanting players from rival former-Yugoslavian countries on the same team, and the Kings already have Bogdan Bogdonavic from Serbia. The potential clash with Slovenian Doncic could have divided the locker room. Vlade Divac has a finger on the pulse of those geopolitical tensions, so I trust him.