Marvin Bagley admits things are moving faster on the basketball floor than they were in college, but he also says he enjoys learning how to adjust to it. That enjoyment of learning and growing as an NBA player is something he seems to take pride in.
The Kings rookie believes he has the “best job in the world,” and when he says that he is referring to being able to work out every day, practice and get better with this team. In the Kings six preseason games, Bagley averaged 13 points and 6.8 rebounds.
The 6’11’’ Duke product recently spoke with Sactown Royalty about his development during the preseason and the transition in the NBA.
What are you learning about yourself in preseason?
It’s basketball, just trying to find different ways to help my team out, whether it’s rebounding, blocking shots, scoring, making a great pass, whatever it may be, I’m just trying to make sure I make the right basketball play and just try to help the team in any way. That’s my mindset coming into these games and so far, I think I’ve been doing a good job. Still got a long way to go, a lot to learn, but I’m definitely excited.
How are you dealing with this transition into the NBA and the pressure that comes with being the No. 2 pick? Do you feel that, or are you able to block all of it out?
You definitely hear everything that is said. Me personally, you want to come in and have a good season, and you’ve got to go through ups and downs to do that so it is just a time where I am just trying to learn and eventually as the season goes on it will come to me and everything will start clicking.
Where do you feel most comfortable at on the floor in the offense right now?
Obviously, my whole life my bread and butter has been getting to the basket and posting up and creating that way, but I am very capable of moving out a little bit and knocking down a jumper and opening my game up. So, it honestly depends on where coach wants me ... I’m prepared and ready to go at any position.
Are you getting more comfortable with your rebounding?
Yeah. In college, I was on the boards all the time. In the first couple of games I was kind of getting a feel for it. Rebounds are a little low, but now I’m getting back to that, getting comfortable searching for the ball and picking my spots. Same cycle, same process I had to go through when I got to school at Duke – just figuring out on the court where I should get to for offensive or defensive rebounds. I’m starting to get it, I’m having fun, like I said.
Can you describe that transition a little more in terms of the difference between high school and college for you?
In high school, pretty much, we played everyone and blew them out. It was a little easier in high school. When I got to college, everybody was a little bit more physical. I still struggled in the beginning, I had a couple of rough games in the beginning, but after going through those I started learning and seeing things, just like now. Everything started getting comfortable for me. I started finding my own spots on the floor – where to score, where to box out to get the rebound, just reading the ball off of my teammates’ shots, things like that. It’s the same thing here, you have to go through those bumps and bruises in the beginning, or however long it takes until you kind of get through it and let the game slow down for you. So, I’m just learning and staying positive throughout this whole thing.
Is the physicality a little bit of an issue with the bigger bodies in the NBA?
I don’t think it has anything to do with the bigger bodies. Obviously, there are bigger guys in the NBA than there is in college, but for me rebounding has always been heart and determination, wanting to get the ball no matter if you are bigger or smaller than who you are playing, or whatever it may be, just going to get the ball. So, now I think I’m getting back to that and it feels good to start that – slow down and get comfortable.
It seems like you are able to make moves to get to spots around the basket to get a shot, but are sometimes struggling to finish over guys. Is that a situation where you are learning how to finish over some of these bigger guys?
Well, playing somebody like Rudy [Gobert] … who is tall like that, long arms who can block shots – that was my first time actually playing somebody like that. I was still trying to attack and be aggressive, but once I got to my shot I was floating it a little bit, not shooting my normal shot. But you learn from that and when we play them again, I will watch film and try to figure out different ways where I can take advantage of my athleticism, or my quickness and try to get to my shot and just shoot my shot, and I think it will come.
You are really trying to get after it on the defensive side of the ball. Is that a point of emphasis for you?
Yeah. People always talk about my defense, but I just try to play hard on both ends, whether it is getting a rebound, diving on the floor, whatever it is, blocking a shot, I’m willing to do it. I’m just trying to go out and play my hardest.
Who are you leaning on this locker room for guidance?
Everybody who has been here, especially guys like Willie [Cauley-Stein], ZBo [Zach Randolph], Buddy [Hield], these guys who have been through this.
What have you been learning from Zbo?
To have somebody like that who has been playing in the league for that long teaching you different tricks to score and how to use your body, just small stuff like that that I try to pick up on and I see him do in practice and things like that. So, I’m just asking questions and learning.
How was it playing in your first back-to-back?
Yeah, first one it definitely was a little harder than I thought it would be … We got in late. We played one time back to back in college, but it was at home so we didn’t have to travel or anything like that so last back to back was different. Kind of felt it a little bit, but we had to fight through it and we’ve got more of those so just have to be prepared.