Marvin Bagley III Hungry for His Next Challenge
It was a brisk day by Sacramento standards.
At 81 degrees with a slight breeze, the state capital was on the verge of an extremely pivotal day for the city. It was draft time, and the Kings held the No. 2 overall pick for the first time in the Sacramento era.
On this particular Sunday in June, Marvin Bagley III, the Duke superstar with No. 1 pick aspirations since AAU, was visiting the Kings for his pre-draft workout.
Awaiting Bagley at the airport was a small Kings contingent, including De’Aaron Fox, last year’s No. 5 pick and an old friend.
There was no elaborate red carpet or private jet, just Bagley, his father and the team. After the initial pleasantries, the small group walked out of the terminal and were greeted by Fox, who flew in on his own accord for the meeting.
Just two days after visiting with the Phoenix Suns – holders of the No. 1 overall pick, Bagley was relaxed, in no way showing he was in the midst of the most important weeks of his life.
“Rap is a sport,” the top prospect and avid rapper explained. “I don’t think [Pusha T] went too far.”
If there was any initial nerves from the big man, he wasn’t budging. Whether it was Drake vs. Pusha T, his Top-5 rappers or why In-N-Out is better than Shake Shack, Bagley already felt at home.
“In-N-Out all day,” Bagley said, as Fox groaned in disbelief. The chemistry already present as the SUV cruised towards downtown.
“Just the family feel,” said the potential top pick on Sactown following his pre-draft workout. “Every time I sit down and talk with everybody, I feel like it's a place we can work together. [We] have the same goals. It's definitely a place I can get better and grow as a player both on and off the court."
On June 27, Bagley was selected No. 2 overall by the Sacramento Kings and in less than two weeks, would play his first professional game in the first-ever California Classic.
After getting acquainted to the Lakers-Kings rivalry during the inaugural Summer League games in Sacramento, Bagley was ready for his next test.
With the sun smiling down at basketball fans in a sultry 112-degree heat, NBA buffs from all walks of life bounced up the Thomas & Mack Center stairs for their first glimpse of the game’s brightest young stars.
The concourse smelled like slightly overcooked popcorn, jerseys spanning the last three decades could be seen in every direction and whistles could be heard every other second.
It was Summer League, and the only No. 2 pick in Sacramento history was about to face off against the only No. 1 overall pick in Suns history and former teammate, Deandre Ayton.
With basketball delirium circulating the rafters, Bagley and Ayton gave Las Vegas a show. Both big men reached double-digit scoring and crashed the glass at will. It was an early, albeit encouraging, sign for the top picks of the draft.
However, it turned out to be Bagley’s final game of the summer, as the rookie remained sidelined with a hip/groin injury.
Because of the injury and his natural competitive fire, Bagley is looking even more forward to getting his regular season journey started with the Kings.
Since returning from Las Vegas, Bagley has continued to stay in the gym, practicing with fellow teammates at Golden 1 Center. This isn’t unusual for Bagley, who got in early practices at the team facility before he even had his introductory press conference.
While Bagley showed flashes of what he’s capable of during Summer League, it’s nowhere near what he wants to show the basketball world as the season inches closer. His desire to get better outweighs any setbacks the rookie may endure.
“He has an appetite and a desire to learn and just soak stuff up,” coach Dave Joerger said after the draft. “I enjoyed that the most.”
Coincidentally, Bagley’s next game will come against the same Phoenix team he played in Las Vegas as preseason kicks off in October. Let the games begin.