How Marvin Bagley III is finding his fit with the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Free Press

Forty-three days have passed since the Detroit Pistons traded for Marvin Bagley III, but based on his play, it seems like he’s spent his entire career with the franchise.

The fourth-year big man has quickly found his groove. He’s the team’s fourth-leading scorer since his first game, averaging 14.4 points and 6.9 rebounds on 53.2% overall shooting.

And he’s still getting better.

Friday was Bagley’s best offensive performance with the Pistons yet. He scored 25 points  — his highest points tally since his arrival and one point shy of his season high — on 10-for-16 shooting during the 100-97 loss to the Washington Wizards. He’s rapidly developed chemistry with Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham.

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The front office was a big fan of Bagley before trading for him, and after just 15 games, the second overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft is showing that he can be a focal point for his new team.

“He’s a talent,” Dwane Casey said after Friday’s loss. “The game is one of talent, and he’s the second pick. There was a reason for it. He was the second pick in the draft, and we’re lucky to have him. He’s still young. He still has some growth to make. I thought he had some great looks in that fourth quarter, also.

“We’re glad we have him and Troy (Weaver) did a good job of bringing him in. That’s what he can do, what he’s doing for us right now.”

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In the month of March, Bagley is averaging 15.5 points and 7.4 rebounds on 53.7% shooting. No one else on the roster can do what he does.

He’s 6-foot-11 with above-the-rim athleticism, soft touch around the rim and an array of post moves. His vertical spacing has made the game easier for Cunningham and Hayes, who love to target him on lobs. But he also pressures the rim without needing to jump, thanks to his all-around post game.

He is, by far, Detroit’s most efficient paint scorer. Bagley is making 75% of his shots at the rim, according to Cleaning The Glass, the highest percentage on the roster, and in the 82nd percentile amongst NBA big men.

Friday was a showcase for the bevy of ways he can punish opposing teams. He finished multiple lobs from Hayes and Stewart, knocked down several post hooks and short jumpers and finished a transition dunk after stealing the ball.

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Bagley has fully bought in to what the Pistons are building. The team is 8-10 since his arrival, a significant accomplishment considering they won just 12 of their previous 56 games. While Bagley isn’t solely responsible, his energy and productive play make a difference.

“I’m telling you, this team is going to be great,” Bagley said after a blowout Wednesday win over the Atlanta Hawks. “This team, we’ve got a lot of great pieces. I’m excited to be here, a part of it of just building something with this team. Not only with just (Hayes), but with everybody. We’ve been continuing to stack days in practice and continuing to get better.

“Everybody’s sticking with it. Everybody here, we know what we’re trying to get to. Every game I feel like we’re getting better. Win or lose, we’re going a lot of great things out there. We’re just continuing to learn off each other, learn from each other, come together as a group. We have a great group here. We’re going to do something special if we continue to lock in on that and look at the bigger picture and continue to get better every single day.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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