It’s been a while since we’ve done an Odds & Ends,but we begin this semi-NBA Draft Edition with some comments I didn’t necessarily care for from ESPN’s Jay Bilas in a back-and-forth Twitter war with longtime Kings broadcaster Grant Napear.
It started when Bilas made a comment about De’ Aaron Fox having walked into a dysfunctional locker room when he was drafted by Sacramento last summer. Napear took the opportunity to inform him that it wasn’t the case at all and that Bilas’ definition of a dysfunctional locker room was a false one. Bilas went on to say that the team has not had a winning culture and a winning locker room in over decade,which everyone can agree on.
Bilas seems to think that just because a team isn’t winning games that they don’t get along and things are in so much disarray. Now,if he was mentioning the locker room anywhere from two to four seasons ago,then he has a rational argument. But this isn’t that locker room anymore. These guys,while young and inexperienced, are getting along quite well. Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdonovic are vacationing together in Belgrade,Frank Mason and Harry Giles are hanging out in Los Angeles together,not to mention all the times many teammates hung out together throughout the season. That right there doesn’t spell dysfunction to me.
The point is that for me,I’m more willing to take the word of someone like Napear who is much,much,much,much closer to the team than a guy like Bilas,who you won’t see near the locker room in any of the Kings’ 41 home dates in the 2018-19 season (and he has had offers from guys like Carmichael Dave to see for himself how the locker room works). Some in the national media will believe what they want to believe because all they see is the team’s record and judge how that team operates based on that. Yes,they weren’t very good last year,but just because they weren’t any good doesn’t mean that they were,by any means,dysfunctional. This is still a young team finding its way in the league. It takes time sometimes. I like the direction they’re going in and the positivity and the camaraderie they’re showing with each other. Unfortunately Bilas doesn’t want to admit he’s wrong on that front.
Speaking of the Kings, they introduced their newest member,Marvin Bagley III out of Duke, at a welcome party in downtown Sacramento on Friday and in a press conference on Saturday. The 6-11 forward was drafted second overall in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
The freshman forward averaged 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game this past season and joins a frontcourt in Sacramento with Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere,Harry Giles,Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson.
“I’m gonna to be ready to come in and give my all, man,” Bagley said after being drafted. “I’m ready to come in with a hard work ethic, motor. You know the effort’s gonna always be there. I’m excited, I can’t wait. I can’t wait to get out there and get settled in and get to work.”
His new coach and general manager are also extremely excited to have him on board.
“One thing that I appreciated the most is he wanted to learn whether we were in video or out on the court,” Joerger said Saturday during Bagley’s introductory news conference at Golden 1 Center. “I did not do exactly an (easy) workout for Marvin, I don’t know how many other ones (he) did, but I put him in some spots to make him uncomfortable to see how he handled it and … he has an appetite and a desire to learn and just soak stuff up, and I enjoyed that the most.”
“Marvin for us is better fit, better player and great talent. So, it was an easy choice for us,” Divac said.
Divac also had the opportunity to select Slovenian superstar swingman Luka Doncic,but instead opted for Bagley.
“A guy who is very talented, in my mind elite talent in this draft, and it was a really easy choice for me,” Divac said.
Divac also believes his 19-year-old prospect has the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting.
I think this was a very good choice for the Kings. Sure,it’s a loaded frontcourt at the moment,but you never know who might or might not be on this roster when opening night tips off. I expect a forward or two to get moved and I even think their starting swingman is not on the team yet. What I like most about Bagley is that he is capable of hitting three-pointers and is a fluid scorer and I think,most of all, he can be the complimentary piece to De’ Aaron Fox. I’m excited to see what he brings to this team and what he’ll be able to do this coming season.
One of the biggest surprises in Thursday’s draft was the fall of Missouri’s Michael Porter,Jr., who some thought could go as high as the second pick in this draft.
After Sacramento selected Bagley, team after team passed on Porter and the further he fell,the more speculation drew as to where he might finally land and that he may not be a lottery pick after all.
After the Clippers decided not to take him with either the 12th or 13th pick,it was then Denver’s selection at 14 and they finally ended the speculation as to where he would go because they selected him.
“All I can say is it’s a blessing,” Porter told ESPN after the selection. “I’m not entitled to this, everything’s a blessing. And I’m so excited, you know, my path was different, a little different than everybody else’s, but I’m gonna make sure that this pick is this organization’s best pick they’ve ever made.” He added, “I’m not going to lie to you, I was stressed out. All that stress was overcome by joy the moment I got called, no matter what number it was. It’s been my dream since I was a kid.”
Porter’s slide could very well be due to concerns over his injured back. He only played three college games at Missouri before declaring himself eligible for this year’s draft. Had he not been injured,he may very well have been the top overall pick this year.
“Coming into this process, we would’ve never thought that Michael would have been there at that point in the draft,” Nuggets GM Calvin Booth said in a statement to the Denver Post. “To come up with him is just unbelievable.”
Another thing that may have led to Porter’s near fall out of the lottery is how gingerly he was seen walking on stage when the players present in the green room were introduced and walking down the steps on stage to their seats.
Porter is expected to be “redshirted” by the Nuggets this season in the same manner that Kings forward Harry Giles was this season,but Porter said he does hope to play at some point this season.
I’ll be honest,I was surprised he fell that far because of how talented he is and was in high school. I thought he would go as low as fifth when my mock draft came out. I think his recent flare-ups that caused him to cancel two workouts before the draft may have been the first red flags for teams in the lottery,the second one was his ginger walk on draft night. However, he is now a low-risk,high reward guy for the Nuggets who,if healthy,could be an asset to a team that’s up and coming and may very well make the postseason next season with players like Nikola Jokic,Jamal Murray,and Gary Harris.
It’s a very good pick for the Nuggets and Porter seems to be happy and at ease with where he’s going.
Finally this week, we go to someone who didn’t get drafted that some people thought would,but I had a strong feeling wouldn’t as LiAngelo Ball,younger brother of Lakers guard Lonzo, was not one of the 60 young men selected in Thursday’s draft. Before the draft, the 19-year-old LiAngelo worked out with the Lakers and Warriors and in a recent workout video was shown to repeatedly throw brick after brick at the basket.
LiAngelo was in college at UCLA before he and other teammates were arrested for shoplifting sunglasses in China. Following their return from China, he left school and played professionally in Lithuania. He averaged a paltry 12.6 per game,but did shoot 41-percent from three-point range.
He wasn’t even added to the Lakers’ summer league roster after the draft was over. But his outspoken father,LaVar,doesn’t seem worried about his son not yet making it to the NBA.
“He’ll come in the back door as a free agent,” LaVar told TMZ. “Somebody will take all three of my boys and whoever do, guess what — championship.”
I don’t think LiAngelo is going to be anywhere near an NBA roster anytime soon. He wrecked things by deciding to steal some shades in one of the biggest communist countries this world has ever seen and then decided to go to Lithuania and play over there and not average many points and then thinks he’s getting picked by a team. Beyond that,it’s coming to a point where teams do not want any part of the Ball family circus. They see what it’s done to the Lakers and how sick of it they are with it and don’t want it themselves. I totally get it and I wouldn’t want it,either.
That’s all for Odds & Ends this week, we’ll see you next time!