The return of Sacramento Kings’ big man Marvin Bagley could be coming any day now. What should Luke Walton do about the rotations?
Marvin Bagley’s return to the lineup will provide a much-needed breath of fresh air to a Sacramento Kings team in desperate need of his shot creation and energy. While they await Bagley’s return, it remains to be seen how Luke Walton will deploy the team’s big man rotation once the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft returns to the court.
Before Bagley fractured his hand and Richaun Holmes emerged as the most consistent big man on the Kings roster, the Kings starting frontcourt to begin the season was Marvin Bagley and Dewayne Dedmon. But now with Holmes surging, and Dedmon struggling seemingly every time he steps on the court, does Walton return to the team’s original starting lineup or does he start Bagley alongside Holmes?
While Holmes has significantly outplayed Dedmon this year, I think the answer is simple: you start Bagley next to Dedmon.
When the Kings drafted Bagley over Luka Doncic, they made a commitment to his future that they need to uphold. Bagley becoming an All-Star is one of the only pathways the Kings have to ever become a perennial 50-win team. Putting him out there next to Holmes for the majority of a game would be malpractice by the coaching staff.
Why Start Dedmon Over Holmes?
Despite his hot start, Holmes poses enormous spacing issues for the Kings offense if paired next to Bagley for an extended period. Bagley and Holmes are both players that are best when operating from the free-throw line in, and neither has established a reliable enough three-pointer to make up for the other’s lack of range. Bagley and Holmes will overlap at times due to the Kings’ roster construction, but in a perfect world, that wouldn’t be for more than 10 minutes a game.
Despite Dedmon’s perplexing struggles, he and Bagley should be attached at the hip when it comes to the Kings’ frontcourt rotation. Yes, Dedmon has looked downright awful in a Kings jersey outside of a game or two, but he has prior experience spacing the floor next to an athletic big in a similar vein to Bagley. During his last two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Dedmon saw a ton of his minutes next to John Collins, who’s game resembles Bagley’s.
Of course, for this to work, Dedmon has to be able to actually make his shots. He has been atrocious all season from a shooting perspective at 41.2% from the floor and 22.2% from three, but with a more defined role and a natural regression to his career numbers, there is a reason to believe he might actually put some stretches of competent basketball together.
If Dedmon can just improve to his career norms, the pairing could be solid.
Richaun Holmes has been an outstanding addition to this Kings team and will continue to be, but for this team to reach its full potential this year and beyond, Marvin Bagley needs put in the best position to succeed.