Marvin Bagley III has done pretty well in adjusting to life in the NBA. His Sacramento Kings look primed to make a push for the postseason, he’s turned into an absolute nightmare off the bench as a scorer and a rebounder, and before he even stepped on the court, the former Duke standout was the first athlete to come on board with Puma as part of the company’s decision to get back into basketball.
Amid all of this, Bagley has established himself as an invaluable part of an exciting young core in Sacramento, one that features a metric ton of exciting players, guys like De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Bogdan Bogdanovic. For the first time in a long, long time, there’s optimism that the Kings could be on the verge of something special, and if all goes right, Sacramento will play a playoff game for the first time since 2005-06.
We spoke to Bagley at Puma’s NBA All-Star space about getting used to the NBA, being a rookie with a major sneaker deal, and how the game has slowed down over his 43-game career.
You’re a 19-year-old dude. This is your first year in the league, and this is really the first time in your life you haven’t had to worry about school, you haven’t had to worry about class. Is there a hard adjustment to just being all basketball, all the time and not having those secondary responsibilities?
No, that was easy. That was the easiest part about it all. You know I love playing, I love being around it. To do it every day without anything else distracting me and just having to focus on other stuff, I like that. It was an easy adjustment, and like I said, whenever I have a chance to get better and pick what I’m doing, it’s always good.
So you said that was the easiest part. What was the hardest part?
The hardest part was just learning the NBA, the traveling and just seeing how everything works, but I got used to it. It’s coming along very well for me.
The Kings haven’t made the playoffs in more than a decade. When you got there, was there an expectation that between you, between De’Aaron, and some of the other young guys this had the potential to be a really special year?
Yeah, we knew what we wanted to do. We heard a lot how people doubted us. They didn’t think we would be good, but it was fun, I would say proving them wrong but just showing people. It’s just been exciting so far and I’m excited for this playoff push.
Do you guys feel like you have a chip on your shoulder every night for that reason?
Yeah. Yeah, man. We all know what we wanna do and we’re willing to do whatever we can to help and get there. So, it’s been fun.
How has the city of Sacramento been? Just you getting used to life out there.
It’s been fun, man. I love it, I love it. It was new for me at first but I’m getting used to it and meeting people and just getting to see different stuff every day. It’s been very fun.
What’s the skill that’s maybe been the hardest to get down going from college to the NBA, even if you’ve gotten it down already?
More of my stuff is off the court really, like adjusting to being in different cities every night, traveling, being in different hotels. Having a hotel room at this hotel, you go to the next city, you go to the same hotel room number, you just get confused. That was kind of different for me. Like I said, I’m getting used to all this, man, and having fun with it. And especially on the court, the game is starting to slow down a little.
Was the game kind of fast for you at the start?
Yeah, yeah, it was fast.
Now that it’s slowing down, what is becoming easier? What are you seeing on the floor that maybe you weren’t seeing at the start of your career?
In the beginning I was making moves fast, I was anxious, I was just moving too fast. I think just slowing down and just letting everything happen, just surveying the floor, everything is slowing down, and that’s … What I look forward to every game is I’m getting better.
I wanna ask about De’Aaron. How does he compliment your game and what do you do that you think makes life easier on him?
We all run, we all get out and run. He’s fast, I’m fast. We just get out and run, and I think with that together, it’s hard to guard, hard stop. So I think that’s what makes us a good team.
Do you guys feel like if you don’t win a championship this year, you guys have that core so you can be potentially one of the next great teams in the NBA, sooner rather than later?
Yeah man, yeah, absolutely. I think with the team we have right now, the pieces that we’ve added, I think we have a great chance to do something special. Whether … If it doesn’t happen now, we still have something to build on and to move forward with in the future and I’m excited to see where we end up.
Let’s talk about Puma real quick. There aren’t many young guys that get to be one of the faces of a brand, a sneaker brand right away. Was that something that really resonated with you when you sat down and started to talk with them?
Yeah man, that was a good opportunity for me, being the first guy to sign with them, it was like, I didn’t know what to expect coming in. I was just trying to hear everything, hear everybody out and they just presented me with the opportunity to be myself, on and off the floor. Just show my different talents, music and just give me that opportunity, and that’s why I went with this brand.
What’s your favorite colorway on the Clydes?
My favorite colorway? I like the Peace on Earth, those are my favorite ones, and the player edition ones that I have, I like those too, the Draft day ones, those are the two that I like.