Increase Play Making And Open-Court Ability
This is the part of Bagley’s potential that I am the most bullish on.
Bam Adebayo, Pascal Siakam, or prime Blake Griffin are examples of players that can both lead the fast break to set up teammates, but also finish plays off themselves. This is an increasingly valuable skill for big men to have in the modern NBA.
In his young career, Bagley has been more of a play finisher on fast breaks than a play starter. In transition, he uses his springy legs and speed for his position to beat opposing big men down the court. (0:34)
Bagley hasn’t had a ton of fast break opportunities as the lead ball-handler, but when he’s been given the chance, he’s shown how dangerous he could eventually be in the open court. (2:20)
On a couple of different occasions in his career, Bagley has swatted a shot on one end and ran like a gazelle to finish on the other end. These are the type of glimpses in his game that are the most mesmerizing and indicative of his upside. (0:16)
One thing differentiating the aforementioned players from Bagley is that they all have elite handles and vision for their position. Bagley still routinely gets tunnel vision for the basket during fast break opportunities as well as isolations, and that often causes him to throw up some wild shot attempts like the one below. (0:09)
When Bagley gets the ball in either the open court or in the post, passing is usually the last thing on his mind, evidenced by him finishing last on the team in assist percentage as a rookie at just 5.9 percent. On the few occasions where he doesn’t predetermine a drive to the basket, he has shown the ability to throw solid passes.
Bagley improving his decision-making and increasing his efficiency in transition would make him a much more well-rounded player.
Getting and Staying Healthy
The biggest obstacle between Marvin Bagley becoming a productive NBA player is his lack of durability. It sounds simple, but to actually be a good player, you first need to play. For whatever reason, Bagley seems to get his body tangled up and in compromising positions a lot more often than other players.
Learning how to play effectively and aggressively without getting hurt is actually a skill and one that Bagley needs to develop. Whether that’s through strength development or just playing smarter, it’s something that he is going to have to do.
If and when he strings together a few months of healthy play together, I firmly believe he can produce at a high level.
The Doncic cloud is always going to hang over the Kings’ organization, but Bagley can at least quell a lot of the noise if he can stay on the court and improve certain aspects of his game.
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