Marvin Bagley Is Using Summer League To Adjust To The NBA’s Steep Learning Curve

07.09.18 11 months ago

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LAS VEGAS — There are a few immutable rules of the NBA’s annual Summer League. One is that “Trap Queen” is the hottest song in the world — it was the official anthem of Summer League before it was ever recorded. Another is that the marquee matchup between the No. 1 and 2 picks in the most recent draft, usually scheduled within the first few days of the event, is going to be underwhelming.

The most memorable of these games came in 2014, when Andrew Wiggins’ Cavaliers faced off against Jabari Parker’s Bucks on the same morning LeBron James released his “I’m Coming Home” essay in Sports Illustrated. With seemingly the entire NBA crammed into the tiny Cox Pavilion (the smaller of the two gyms on the UNLV campus) on the day the greatest player in the world shook up the entire league, Wiggins found his debut overshadowed by questions about his omission from James’ letter and the inevitable Kevin Love trade.

But the game itself was highly forgettable, as neither Wiggins nor Parker set the world on fire. Last year’s Lakers-Sixers showdown was more memorable for the out-of-control Lonzo Ball circus than for anything that actually happened on the court.

This year, there weren’t even any external narratives to sell the Saturday showdown between No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton of the Suns and No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III of the Kings. The two were high-school teammates in Arizona, a fact that doesn’t exactly capture the public’s imagination the same way, say, the debut of Ben Simmons did.

Bagley’s struggles from last week’s Sacramento Summer League have carried over to Las Vegas — his 15-point, 7-rebound performance in Sacramento’s loss to Phoenix was something of a bounce-back after he finished with just one point in 29 minutes in the final game in Sacramento on Thursday. Still, it was hardly a dominant performance, as he shot just 5-for-13 from the field and got a shot viciously blocked by second-year Suns forward Josh Jackson. Near the end of the game, he suffered a hip injury that kept him out of the Kings’ next game, a loss to the Clippers on Sunday.

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