Marvin Bagley III Drafted by Kings at No. 2, Hailed as 'Special' on Twitter

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2018

DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 24:  Marvin Bagley III #35 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after a play against the Syracuse Orange during their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 24, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings selected Duke Blue Devils forward Marvin Bagley III with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft Thursday. 

The Athletic's Aaron Torres was a big fan of the pick:

In his one season at Duke, Bagley averaged 21.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. The freshman was particularly good in the NCAA tournament, when he averaged 20.5 points and shot 68.9 percent from the field over the Blue Devils' four games.

While Bagley wasn't a dead-eye shooter, he showed off some range by hitting 39.7 percent of his three-point attempts. At the very least, Bagley could grow to become a consistent threat from the perimeter, which would add a lot to his offensive value.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman hit on what is the biggest concern for Bagley in the NBA, though:

"His fit isn't so obvious at either end, though the most pressing issue shows on defense.

"Opposing offenses exposed Bagley, whether they isolated him in space or made him react off the ball. Can he guard around the perimeter as a 4? He didn't offer any rim protection, having blocked a concerning 2.6 percent of two-point attempts. Bagley doesn't stand out as a center that coaches will want anchoring their defense in the middle."

At 6'11", Bagley has the height to line up at center, but his inability to protect the rim may preclude him from playing the position for long stretches. Especially late in games, a center who can't defend the paint is a big liability.

Karl-Anthony Towns was the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year winner and 2018 All-Star, and even he isn't immune to some criticism about his defense.

And whether Bagley can play at center will go some way toward sorting out his offensive ceiling. He would present clear matchup problems at the 5, but his occasional inability to score in isolation would be a bigger problem at the 4, where he wouldn't have the same kind of physical advantages in one-on-one situations.

All things considered, Bagley is well worth the investment for Sacramento. He already has a solid baseline for his offense, and his scoring potential goes through the roof if he continues to connect on close to 40 percent of his three-pointers.

Should he fail to improve significantly on defense, Bagley can still be a starter in the NBA for years to come. In the event he takes big strides forward defensively, he's an All-Star in the making.

This early into the draft, teams are always better off going with value over need. The Kings already have a glut of frontcourt options, but Bagley is an immediate upgrade over any forward on Sacramento's roster.

In addition, pairing him with Harry Giles, who missed his entire rookie season while recovering from a knee injury, is a tantalizing prospect for the team.

Still, whether the Kings should've taken Bagley over Luka Doncic is a question that will persist on draft night and beyond.

While Sacramento already has De'Aaron Fox at point guard, Doncic has the size (6'6") to occupy the 2-guard. For a franchise that has struggled to build through the draft, selling the fans on Bagley—a player with a high ceiling but big flaws in his game—over Doncic might be a tough task this offseason after the latter played a starring role for Real Madrid this season.

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