The conflicting feelings surrounding potential centers the Sacramento Kings were rumored to be chasing were legitimate.
When you read the Kings were interested in Nikola Vucevic: “Signing an All-Star center to propel the team towards the playoffs, I’m all for that” or “Giving a money-heavy contract to centers aren’t worth it in today’s NBA.”
Regarding Al Horford: “Horford’s defensive expertise, decent floor spacing and potential influence to Harry Giles are worth that big contract.” Or it was “This is way too much money for an aging veteran who will be getting paid $25 million plus at age 36!”
Regarding Dewayne Dedmon: “Solid player, but we don’t want an overpay for someone who might not elevate us to playoff contention.” The other argument was: “A guy who doesn’t need the ball, gives Bagley some interior space and allowing Giles to grow into the center role.”
The back and forth feeling between all of these potential options were all fair points. The best part about this dilemma was the fact that all three were some of the best options in free agency and they were all connected to Sacramento.
Before free agency officially kicked off, it became known that the Kings were signing Dewayne Dedmon to a three-year, $40 million deal. Dedmon was a center that Kings fans were hyped for, and one of the pivotal reasons was his potential fit with Marvin Bagley as a starter.
While Vucevic would’ve brought an All-Star level presence, playing on a team that doesn’t revolve around him like it did in Orlando would decrease his production. But in the scenario that the Kings made Vucevic the offensive focal point, then he would be receiving the majority of the touches and the fast-paced system that Sacramento already built a strong foundation on would begin to crumble.
With Horford, factors like pace and heavy ball attention were lesser concerns. It was his interior defense, floor spacing and high post playmaking abilities that made him stand out but like mentioned, the age-to-cost element could’ve been a risky move.
The idea of a Bagley-Dedmon pairing is definitely an intriguing one and one that will be a crucial portion in the starting lineup.
A glaring weakness of Bagley last season consisted of a shortage of passes out of the post which became a primary factor in his low 5.9 percent assist percentage. If he received the ball in the low post, chances were the ball would stay in his hands for a shot.
For Bagley to climb the next step, passing out of the post is necessary to improve on and with Dedmon coming in, it’ll provide Bagley with three things.
Dedmon’s elite floor spacing for his position will grant Bagley extra room to operate with if he’s in this situation. Because Dedmon’s shooting enables him to be placed anywhere on the court, Bagley could look to kick it out to him but it also removes an extra big defender from the paint.
With Willie Cauley-Stein’s lack of spacing, he needed to hover around the rim or else defenders would overlook him. He’s not taking away from Bagley’s space in the clip, but he is allowing the block machine in Rudy Gobert to possibly threaten Bagley with a rejection, even though Derrick Favors does the job. Having Dedmon sit in one of the corners just to give Bagley a one-on-one game with no sliding defenders would tremendously aid the second-year big.
Kosta Koufos’ compact arsenal of shots became a minimal threat for defenses, thus allowing them to translate their energy on help defense to more dangerous players rather than making life harder for Koufos’ deteriorating hook shot.
Bagley is in a favorable matchup with the smaller Josh Hart defending the post, but Koufos circling out to the free throw line permits JaVale McGee to disregard him and aid Hart. Koufos calls for the ball but a double-contested Bagley hook has better odds of going in but with Dedmon in that situation, passing to him would achieve a desirable outcome.
In the event that Bagley’s passing does strengthen, opportunities to feed teammates should increase. There were times throughout the season, especially towards the end when Bagley would deliver a beautiful pass for an easy basket that would make you ponder how better he’ll be just by upgrading the scope of his vision.
The duality of Dedmon is a unique trait amongst Sacramento’s talented centers right now. We love to rave about his 38 percent clip from deep, but Dedmon converts down low at a solid rate as well.
Bagley draws plenty of attention down low and that creates openings for players to cut to the basket so Bagley can drop off a pass. In the clip, the 6’11” big man reaches a road block of two defenders and he’s not even set yet, but he sees Harry Giles wide open and delivers a wraparound bounce pass to traverse the covered path and get an easy layup.
Once Bagley started to produce the right read from the post to find cutters with a preferable look to his, it freshened up his game. Normally you would see Bagley make that one step gather dribble and attempt the turnaround hook despite the shot contest, but in this instance he lifts his head up to see an incoming Cauley-Stein running towards the basket. Already in stride, Bagley feeds Cauley-Stein the ball for a nice finish.
Reading the game one play ahead or knowing your next move before getting the ball just defines great basketball IQ and Dedmon’s proficiency in cutting towards the rim will come to Bagley’s benefit.
Dedmon finished the season at a perfect 27-27 mark on cutting dunk shots and a 15-17 rate on cutting layups.
Being a fan of the John Collins-Dedmon combo, I have high hopes that Dedmon can succeed with Bagley by cutting to the basket and working down low together.
Before Collins receives the ball in the low block, notice how Dedmon is slowly backpedaling to the right corner but when the ball arrives, Dedmon rushes to the rim and takes advantage of Aron Baynes and Terry Rozier collapsing on his frontcourt partner. Collins is already in passing motion when the defenders collapse and easily granny styles the pass between the green jerseys for Dedmon to throw down a dunk.
Signing Dedmon brings in an appropriate partner for Bagley, who should continue to maximize his talent with a big who will provide key spacing, take less touches than needed and boost the offensive frontcourt duality of the two players. Both can score inside and with Dedmon’s impressive long range power, Bagley is also taking leaps there.
These two boast the potential to make a dangerous combination against defenses and will be an exciting pair to watch.