Few people like to discuss injuries and many are too superstitious to mention the subject. I generally have both reservations but sense it’s an appropriate time to hope, and assume, that the Kings are going to carefully control the recovery of Marvin Bagley and his playing time the rest of the season. Against the Warriors last week Bagley was bumped under the basket and fell on his left knee. He arose and soon scored a layup, his fourth point in five minutes, but had to limp off the court and into the dressing room. An MRI ruled out the worst – structural damage – but detected a bruised bone. Since the projected reevaluation of his knee won’t occur until about two weeks after the injury, and Bagley probably can’t practice hard in the interim, he may miss about a month. The most recent setback follows an early December muscle pull in his lower back that consigned him to the bench for two games. And in July, Bagley suffered another bruised bone, this one in his pelvis, and had to sit out the rest of the summer league.
This sequence certainly doesn’t prove Marvin Bagley is injury prone but does demonstrate that at this stage of his career, when he’s only nineteen and rather thin by NBA standards, he’s getting bounced around more than he’d prefer. When Bagley’s knee heals, the Kings will probably limit his minutes, at least for a while, to something close to the 23.1 he’s averaged for the season. Such restraint may not be easy for the team because Bagley’s 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game project to a stellar 19.8 and 9.5 per 36 minutes. However, since the man starting ahead of him, Nemanja Bjelica, is playing well and the team is winning more than losing, it’s possible we won’t see any more 30-minute outings from Bagley. He’s only had two of those as a rookie, the longest stint being 34 minutes against the Warriors in November when he scored 20 and snared 17 rebounds during a one-point loss.
At this point, and in particular during the off-season, Bagley and the Kings will focus on adding muscle and weight to a frame that needs more armor. I’ve seen his weight listed from 195 to 235. He certainly doesn’t weigh the latter and I hope he’s heavier than the former. Whatever his current weight, he needs at least 15 more solid pounds before next season. Bagley’s limited minutes to date, which have aggravated some fans and a few officials in the front office, now appear to have been an inspired plan of restraint by coach Dave Joerger. Let the young fellow get experience without pushing too hard on the accelerator, then patiently transform him into a hardened target.