Detroit Pistons: Predictions for individual awards
Comeback Player of the Year – Marvin Bagley III
Since Marvin Bagley III was selected second overall in 2018 ahead of better players like Jaren Jackson Jr, Trae Young, Luka Doncic, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, it’s easy to forget that he’s been a solid starting center pretty much every season, aside from the first half of 2021.
Is he an All-NBA player like Doncic and Young? No, but he can easily average 14 points a night, spread the floor a little bit, and he is a surprisingly good defender, considering the lack of physicality he has on the boards.
NBA Twitter and casual fans would have you believe he’s a total bust. Yes, he should have been selected fifth or sixth, but he wasn’t a reach when the Kings selected him. If he starts down low ahead of Stew and Duren–or with one of them–then he should easily have a career year.
Cunningham, Ivey, and Bey should draw the eye of opposing defenses, leaving him open down low. With an oversized backcourt, Bagley can have some help on the boards and defensive end, which is where his main weaknesses are. The lineup is built perfectly to allow him to shine while hiding his flaws, so the big man should be able to remind everyone why he was considered an All-Rookie talent after year one.
Bagley was never a bad player, which is why he isn’t in the running for the Most Improved award, but he is poised for a breakout year. If it’s not now, I fear it won’t happen. This award does not exist in the NBA, but if he gets to start enough games, I think Bagley will show everyone that he can be an above-average center in the NBA, which is asking for a lot.