Kings coach Dave Joerger spoke on Sunday ahead of Sacramento’s win over the Mavs and had some glowing comments about Luka Doncic that were hard not to read as him, at least to an extent, lamenting the Kings’ front office passing on Doncic in the draft.
That wasn’t to say he isn’t pleased with Marvin Bagley III, but him noting he didn’t see a ceiling for Doncic, “unfortunately for us,” certainly made it seem as though he did feel they might’ve missed out. On Monday, Joerger was quick to clarify his comments before they took on too much of a life of their own.
Joerger, who has had some reported tensions with Kings management, namely assistant GM Brandon Williams, made sure to note he wasn’t taking any veiled shots at the front office and went so far as to proclaim the team’s last two draft picks in Bagley and De’Aaron Fox, “the next Durant-Westbrook.”
It’s not a surprise Joerger would issue a clarification and offer praise and support for Bagley given how his initial comments were interpreted, but calling Fox and Bagley the next Russ-KD might be taking things a bit too far in the opposite direction.
Fox, after a rough rookie season, has emerged as a spectacular player in Sacramento. He’s taken a massive leap and his play from the point guard spot is one of the biggest reasons for the Kings’ surprising success this season. Bagley is off to a solid start to his rookie campaign, but has likewise had his struggles, particularly on the defensive end where everyone expected him to be a work in progress.
Still, comparing those two to arguably the best back-to-back first round draft picks by one franchise in recent history is maybe heaping too much expectation on them. People around the Kings should be optimistic about Fox and Bagley’s potential, particularly with Fox’s maturation this season. Bagley might take a similar leap in the coming years, but even so, it’s probably best not to set the bar at Durant and Westbrook just yet.