Former Duke basketball star is ready to prove doubters wrong

Duke basketball alum Marvin Bagley (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Duke basketball alum Marvin Bagley (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball program’s 2018 ACC Player of the Year is ready to ball.

There are many former Duke basketball stars who are going to be on the court in Orlando amidst the restart of the NBA season at the end of July. All eyes have been on players such as Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Jayson Tatum.

However, there is one player people are sleeping on. A player who was a double-double machine as a Blue Devil. A former No. 2 overall pick in the draft. That player is Marvin Bagley.

ALSO READ: Ranking all 25 Blue Devils in the NBA this season

After coming off a solid rookie season, expectations for Bagley were high. Fans expected him to make a big sophomore jump and propel the Sacramento Kings into playoff contention.

Everything was on track for Bagley to have a big improvement, until he suffered a thumb fracture only one game into the season. This injury sidelined the 6-foot-11, 240-pound power forward for 22 straight games and sidelined the Kings’ playoff hopes early on in a stacked Western Conference.

Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton kept the young sophomore under a minutes restriction once he returned in order to prevent another injury. Bagley played no more than 28 minutes a game after returning to the lineup. Yet it was only eight games in when he suffered yet another setback. This time it was a midfoot sprain in his left foot.

As with any young player dealing with injuries, frustrations started to grow for Marvin Bagley. But he was still able to stay composed and mature during this rough time. In a surprise post-game appearance, Bagley addressed the media after the Kings’ win on Feb. 8 against the San Antonio Spurs:

“I’m good man, I’m just taking it one day at a time, staying positive, controlling what I can control. I’m just trying to make sure that I start feeling good and being able to get back out there and do what I do.”

Claims of an upgraded game from the Duke basketball product

Now, five months after those statements, the 21-year-old expects to hit the court free of injuries. Bagley, who has averaged 14.2 points and 7.5 rebounds across 13 appearances this season, went on record last week to say that he is “ready to go” for the NBA restart in Orlando and that he’s feeling “100 percent healthy.” He has also been working out to get into game shape to help the Kings make a push for the playoffs:

“I’ve been focusing on my shot a lot, along with the other parts of my game. My shot and getting stronger was the main thing that I wanted to focus on and work on.”

We have yet to see footage of his jumper now, but the 2017-18 Duke basketball one-and-done has definitely gotten stronger. Bagley says that he has put on 10 pounds of muscle since the hiatus started. The reason he did this was to be able to play the five if needed.

He wanted to “be able to bump and set screens and take screens, take a lot more contact.” With Bagley’s current athleticism and now newly added strength, there is no telling how dominant he can be for Sacramento.

The Kings were already one of the hottest teams in the NBA before the season got suspended, winning 13 of their last 20 games (at 28-36, they sit 3.5 games back of the No. 8 spot in the West). Adding a player the caliber of Marvin Bagley back to the lineup will only bolster their chances.

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