2 areas where Marvin Bagley III must improve for the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Marvin Bagley III was traded to the Detroit Pistons hoping to get a second chance in the NBA.

His time in Sacramento didn’t go well for various reasons, but the Pistons were hoping a change of scenery and some new teammates might help unlock his enormous potential.

So far, Bagley III has found new life in Detroit, mostly as a score-first option off the bench, as he gives them a lob threat and a weapon in the post that they have lacked for most of the season.

If Bagley just wants to be a guy who gets buckets off the bench and does nothing else, he’ll probably still have a future as a backup big in the NBA, but if he wants to reach the next level as a player, there are two areas where he must improve, as right now he is not starting caliber in either one.

Marvin Bagley III needs to protect the rim for the Detroit Pistons

Marvin Bagley III has never been much of a rim protector. In fact, he is not known for his defense at all, which one of the things that has kept him out of a starting lineup even though he  has a ton of talent on the other end.

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Bagley III has only ever averaged at least a block per game once in his career, his rookie season and has averaged just 0.7 blocks per game for his career.

He only blocked two shots in his first seven games for Detroit and some of his defensive deficiencies have been exposed, especially in the loss to the Bulls when he was thrust into the starting lineup because of an injury to Isaiah Stewart.

Bagley III was late on weak side rotations several times, and one play in particular really showed where he lacks.

The Bulls were able to get a switch so that Jerami Grant was defending center Nikola Vucevic, who is too large for him to handle in the post. Bagley III just stood there and watched the play unfold, reacted way too late and came over for the block as Vucevic was laying it in.

He needs to get better at reading these plays, knowing when to help and using his elite athleticism to get some blocked shots from the weak side. He is too passive at times and too aggressive at others, showing a real lack of instinct for defense, which makes sense, as I don’t think he’s ever been asked to play any.

Marvin Bagley III needs to learn how to pass

I would say that Bagley III needs to get better at passing, but I am not sure I’ve ever actually seen him pass the ball.

Bagley III can be a force on the block, where he often draws double teams. The problem is that when the double comes, he rarely if ever passes out of it, but instead tries to take on two guys or attempt a tough turnaround fade away.

He has the finishing ability to be a force in the post or in the pick and roll, but he can’t be a black hole when he gets the ball and has to get better at keeping his head up, recognizing the double team and passing out of it.

No one wants to watch him play hero ball against two guys in the post, and this is one of the things he does that could rub teammates the wrong way. He has to get better at keeping the ball moving, so that the Pistons can find the open man on double teams.

It’s been a pretty good start for Marvin Bagley III for the Detroit Pistons, but if he ever wants to be more than a bench player, he has to get better at the non-scoring aspects of basketball.

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