The Kings are 0-1 on the young season after Wednesday nights hard-fought 123-117 loss to the Utah Jazz. If you’re into good losses, you can probably categorize this one as such. De’Aaron Fox and Willie Cauley-Sten looked great. Nemanja Bjelica showed his plethora of skills for a big man. Buddy Hield showed that he can produce as a starter. Yogi Ferrell did a much better job on Donovan Mitchell than I ever could have expected, and so on.
It wasn’t all great. Justin Jackson and Iman Shumpert failed to produce in Bogdan Bogdanovic’s absence, only highlighting the Kings’ massive need for full sized NBA wings. When the Jazz played Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder, and Rudy Gobert together, Sacramento had no answers, but we knew that was going to be a problem coming into the season. The Kings can do a better job on those guys than they did, but some of just it is what it is.
I thought the Jazz forced the Kings into some tough lineups. Bjelica couldn’t keep up with Ingles or Crowder, so we saw more of Jackson at ‘power forward’ than I’m comfortable with. Joerger could have tried Giles or Bagley on Ingles, but Giles was in heavy foul trouble all night and if you take Joerger’s postgame comments to heart, he though Bagley struggled with the speed of the game defensively. You know, rookie shit.
When it was all said and done, Kings 2nd overall pick Marvin Bagley only played 12 minutes, scoring 6 points on 3-6 shooting from the field with 5 rebounds and 2 fouls. I thought Bagley was fine. I also didn’t think Joerger was doing anything criminal by limiting his minutes against what the Jazz were doing. Quin Snyder forced the Kings to matchup with some lineups they can’t really match up with right now, but that’s just my perspective on how the game played out. It’s certainly up for debate. I both expect and want Bagley to play more minutes moving forward, but yeah, this didn’t feel like a typical Joerger issue to me. This felt like a matchup and a team that has too many bigs issue.
The Bagleys had a different perspective on this.
The Athletic’s Jason Jones tweeted out some interesting quotes from both Bagley and Joerger postgame.
Marvin Bagley III when asked if it was good to sit back and learn by watching:— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) October 18, 2018
"I obviously want to play. I've been playing this game a long time. I'm just going to leave it at that."
Joerger said it’s “tough” to find minutes for Bagley w/ the other bigs going well. Added the game is moving fast on defense for Bagley but there are a lot of minutes to be played this season.— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) October 18, 2018
For additional context as to why Bagley’s minutes were cut short on opening night, Joerger added; “I thought he did fine. The game is moving really, really fast for him, especially defensively and especially against stretch guys and threes and twos that are sometimes playing power forward, getting out on the perimeter and guarding the three”.
Marvin Bagley’s dad added his own 0.02 on Instagram, which landed the Marvin Bagley approval like.
I want to be crystal mega super clear when I say this - I have no problem with how Marvin Bagley responded postgame. He wants to play. He should want to play. That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with what his dad posted on Instagram, either. He can do whatever he wants. I want to make sure we aren’t blowing any of this out of proportion, because I can already see Bagley’s comments gaining some traction this morning.
But while I don’t think it’s a problem, I do think the Instagram post and the passive aggressive ‘liking’ shit is lame. The Kings played well against one of the best teams in the league just days after this same team destroyed them in preseason play. If you’re sick and tired of moral victories that’s fine, but we can’t be going down this road after game one where there is plenty of plausible and defendable reasons why Marvin Bagley only played 12 minutes.
We already talked about what the Jazz did to limit Joerger’s options on Wednesday, but big picture, this is going to be an issue for every big on the roster depending on the night because of how Vlade Divac assembled his front court. They have too many guys that need minutes for too few spots. That isn’t going to change until a trade is made. Bagley was the odd man out by choice, Giles was the odd man out by foul trouble. It was the first game of the season. It’s ok. He’s going to play more than 12 minutes a night.
If Bagley is playing great and Joerger is still cutting his minutes, post whatever you want on Instagram and I will be there with you. If the Kings are getting blown out and Joerger is still cutting his minutes, fire him and hire Coach Bagley for all I care. Those are circumstances where anger and frustration is warranted, but losing to great team on opening night when the Kings did a lot of things right is just not the time or the place for this stuff, but that’s just me.