We don’t know for sure yet, but it looks like the Sacramento Kings will continue their 2019-20 season with the NBA considering a 20-team format to resume play.
The season has been shut down since March 11, which has given former No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III time to rehab, and potentially return to action after missing all but 13 games this season with thumb and foot injuries.
Bagley averaged 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds during his short stint on the court, showing a slight improvement from his rookie season.
The Athletic’s Jason Jones was asked in his most recent mailbag how the Kings frontcourt will look with Bagley back in the fold:
“My assessment is this: Bagley will be the starting power forward with Holmes at center. Bjelica will be in the rotation and Bagley will play minutes at center, too. Don’t forget that Harrison Barnes will play some power forward in small-ball lineups, too. That doesn’t leave a lot of minutes for a third center or an extra big. Len would have value because the Kings would still need a big man with size and physicality to go with the group. I do think Giles’ best opportunity will likely come with another team. I’m not sure how the Kings sell him on returning if there is a team willing to give him a bigger role.”
Head coach Luke Walton would have a big decision to make, especially considering Bagley’s defensive struggles. Bagley had the worst defensive rating on the team of any player who played more than 10 games at 114.6 (per NBA.com). The Kings were about average on the defensive end with Richaun Holmes on the floor, with his DEFRTG at 108.8.
Although the sample size is limited, the underlying numbers of having both Bagley and Holmes on the court at the same time are not encouraging. Bagley and Holmes only suited up for eight games together, playing a grand total of just 25 minutes with each other. During that time, Sacramento had a -13.0 net rating, per NBA.com.
One area of the game the combo will hold its own is rebounding. The Kings controlled 79.2% of their defensive boards with the duo on the court, and 54.2% of the overall rebounds.
Offensively, they fit together well. Bagley is the better scorer who uses a variety of post moves and positioning to get easy buckets from close in. Holmes’ strength is in the pick-and-roll, when he can score off the run and not rely on creating shots for himself.
Walton will have to use the team’s training camp to figure out his lineup combinations going into the play-in round. If Bagley is inserted as a starter, Walton will have to gauge scrimmages to see who fits best next to him in the frontcourt out of Holmes, Giles, and Len.
Sacramento found some success before the season was paused, going 7-3 over its previous 10 games leading up to the shutdown. Without Bagley during that stretch, and only having Holmes for the last two games, Walton went with Giles and Bjelica in the starting lineup, and brought Len off the bench.
Giles and Bjelica played 154 minutes together on the court during those 10 games, with a -8.3 net rating. The Kings were a worse team on the boards with Giles and Bjelica on the court than they were with Bagley and Holmes, with a 6.8% drop in overall rebounding.
It will be interesting to see who Walton will go with, but one thing is for sure: he will have plenty of frontcourt options.
Who do you think Walton should start at the 4 and 5?