Is Marvin Bagley III in for a Breakout Season for the Pistons?
When Marvin Bagley III was traded to the Pistons, his career was at a personal low-point. The Sacramento Kings drafted the forward second overall, and expected Bagley to help them reach the playoffs. However, with health issues and internal struggles in the organization, the Kings quickly gave up on the prospect and sent him to Detroit. In just 18 games, Bagley shined in his small sample size, averaging 14.6 points shooting 55% from the field. Bagley’s athleticism opened up the offense for Cade Cunningham and the rest of the guards. His ability to catch lobs over the basket made them far more of a threat.
Not only did the Pistons thrive with this lob threat, but Bagley thrived in his natural role. The lack of expectations allowed him to just play. And in addition, the ability to have guards who can play in the pick and roll and set him up for easy offense lets him play with more rhythm. In the limited sample size, Marvin Bagley was impressive enough to earn a 3 year extension. And if Bagley keeps working on his game and is bought into the defensive end, he can be in for a big season.
Marvin Bagley is in prime position to thrive
One of the biggest detriments to a player’s success is when they are in an environment that’s the wrong fit. And in particular, when that wrong fit is Sacramento, it only made Marvin Bagley’s situation more insurmountable. Joking aside, it was apparent quickly that Doncic was the superior prospect and the Kings treated Bagley with buyer’s remorse. However, when Bagley came to the Pistons, he almost immediately had success. And why is that? Because coach Dwane Casey and Troy Weaver gave him a role that fit his talents. He didn’t have to meet the expectations of the second overall pick. He just had to be Marvin Bagley.
Marvin Bagley played a total of 48 games this past season, 30 in Sacramento and 18 in Detroit. Not only did his minutes increase when he came to the Motor City, but his overall efficiency did as well. His effective field goal percentage increased from 49 percent with the Kings, to 57.5 percent with the Pistons. His 14.6 points per game and his paint presence lead to Detroit going from one of their worst losing streaks of the season, to a team that was just under .500 after the All Star Break. It was clear that his athleticism was a weapon that the Pistons young guards could utilize.
Bagley has a basketball home, and now can focus on his game
Troy Weaver made resigning Bagley one of their priorities during free agency. And that ultimately resulted in Marvin earning a 3 year, 37.5 million dollar contract. There are no team options, there are no player options. Unless Marvin Bagley is traded, he will be a Piston for the next three seasons. It’s clear Bagley is grateful for the opportunity he has been given in Detroit, and now that the opportunity is there, it’s up to him how far it can go. But if Bagley’s 18 game sample size was any indication, Marvin Bagley can be a key piece of the Pistons foundation.
There are still areas to grow. Bagley’s game on the defensive end can use improvement. And his outside shot needs to improve for more consistent playing time. However, he is in a situation that he can develop his game. With the culture and organization Detroit has already put in place, it’s a perfect tailored fit for Marvin Bagley to both grow as a player, and not live with the expectations of the second overall pick. It’s a fresh start, and an important lesson on the importance of fit in the NBA.