Don't look now, but Marvin Bagley III is coming into his own with career game against the Suns

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

He may not be Luka Doncic, but this year’s No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III is quickly showing he belongs in the NBA.

Bagley had a career day on Sunday with a season-best 32 points to help lead his Sacramento Kings over the Phoenix Suns, 117-104. And to make things even better, he did it while out-dueling the man picked directly before him in June: Deandre Ayton.

Despite his early selection in the draft, Bagley has only started one game but has been the team’s primary scorer off the bench. In 24.2 minutes per game, he’s fourth on the team with 13.3 points per game, which is also sixth among all rookies.

Scroll to continue with content

Kings fans may be disappointed that they passed on Doncic — what with his triple-doubles, creative passes and knack for clutch shots — but since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for 12 games, Bagley has taken things to another level.

In the 15 games since his return, Bagley is averaging 14.8 points per game, and that mark is up to 16.7 points per game in the nine games since his minutes returned to normal and he first cracked the 30 minutes mark. Last week, he became the first rookie since Yao Ming — and the first teenager ever — to put up 24 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks in a game while showing off his athleticism on a ridiculous 360 alley-oop.

Kings forward Marvin Bagley III scored a career-high 32 points on Sunday. (Getty Images)
Kings forward Marvin Bagley III scored a career-high 32 points on Sunday. (Getty Images)

Bagley was more of the same on Sunday, as he shot 10-for-15 from the field — including 1-for-2 from beyond the arc — and 10-for-11 from the line. That made Bagley the first rookie to make at least 10 field goals and 10 free throws off the bench since, you guessed it, Yao.

The 6-foot-11 big man displayed a variety of offensive moves as he picked on the defensively challenged Ayton. Eight of his 10 made shots came in the paint, including five at the basket, but he’s certainly not one-dimensional. Bagley showed off his ball-handling skills by driving to the paint and tormenting Ayton with a ferocious spin move.

Bagley also flexed his athleticism on the fast break with a powerful alley-oop. He nearly put Richaun Holmes on a poster, although the big man was smart enough to not get in Bagley’s way.

Bagley’s offensive prowess has been well-documented going back well before his days at Duke; defense was more of a question for him. Among the 239 players averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Bagley’s 109.0 defensive rating ranks 156th, while his 0.065 defensive win shares rank 175th.

But that didn’t stop him from embarrassing Holmes again on Sunday. Although he let Holmes slip by him to grab an offensive rebound early in the fourth quarter, Bagley stuffed him for his 12th block in his last nine games.

More from Yahoo Sports:
Costas confirms reason he got pulled from Super Bowl
Former NFL first-rounder’s mixed debut with AAF
New football league wins the night, tops NBA in ratings
Bushnell: The ‘miracle’ reincarnation of the Bucks

What to Read Next