SACRAMENTO (AP) — Marvin Bagley III was adamant that he was the best player going into the draft and was quick to share that opinion when asked. The former Duke star wasn’t backing down after being taken by the Sacramento Kings with the second overall selection, either.
“That’s just the type of player I am,” Bagley said during a conference call with reporters. “I’m going to have confidence in my game. I still think I’m the best player in the draft and I stand by that. I put a lot of work into it and I’m glad that I’ll be able to show it with Sacramento.”
Bagley’s positioning had been a topic of debate in the days leading up to the draft, whereas 7-foot-1 center Deandre Ayton of Arizona was almost unanimously viewed as the top overall pick.
The Phoenix Suns grabbed Ayton with the No. 1 pick, dropping Bagley to the No. 2 spot with Sacramento which he says will give him added incentive heading into the NBA.
“It just lit a fire inside of me to want to play and compete at a high level,” Bagley said. “So I’m happy it ended like that. Now all we can do is step out on the floor and play the game. That’s what it all is.”
The Kings drafted another Duke player, Gary Trent Jr., with the 37th overall pick then traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for two future second-round selections.
Bagley will be a welcome addition in Sacramento’s frontcourt. The 6-foot-11 Bagley was AP’s player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference during his only season at Duke. He averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds while shooting better than 60 percent and has the ability to consistently finish at the rim.
That is key for the Kings, who were inconsistent inside much of last season while finishing 27-55.
Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac had several options with the franchise’s highest pick since the Kings grabbed Pervis Ellison with the top overall pick in 1989.
Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and Real Madrid sensation Luka Doncic were linked to Sacramento in the weeks leading up to the draft. Both were intriguing for different reasons, but there were questions about Porter’s health as well as concerns about Doncic’s ability to carry over his international success to the NBA.
By contrast, Bagley is considered a safe pick who should help the Kings’ inside scoring and rebounding.
“I’m going to be ready to come in and give it my all,” Bagley said. “Effort’s going to always be there. I’m excited. I can’t wait to get out there and go to work.”
Bagley was one of four players in Division I to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in 2017. He joins a struggling franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006.
Coach Dave Joerger’s young team showed flashes at times in 2017 but there was never an established starting lineup and players were shuffled in and out.
Bagley played forward at Duke but could also get time at center in Joerger’s system. The 19-year-old is more of a scoring threat than last year’s starter, Willie Cauley-Stein, although both big men need more development on the defensive end.
A more likely scenario is the two big men playing together to give the Kings an inside presence on both ends.
“I think I can bring a lot to a team, offensively and defensively, inside and out,” Bagley said. “I’m very confident in my game and my abilities. I know how much work I put into this and how much I sacrificed for it. I’m excited to show the world, my team and my teammates everything I can do.”
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press