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Marvin, The 4th and Other Stuff

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Kings on the Run

Like clockwork, the Kings are on a random yet enjoyable run, winning 5 of 6–and boy is it fun to watch. 

Reminds me of last year, when they won 4 of 5 from 11/1 to 11/12. 

Or when they won 4 of 5 from 12/8 to 12/15.

Or when they won 6 of 8 from 1/24 to 2/8. 

Or when they won 9 of 12 from 2/3 to 3/3. 

You get the idea. 

Like the actual games themselves or the day after the Super Bowl, the basketball season is full of runs (both enjoyable and not so much). 
But is this year different?

We shall see. 

Random Stats

The Kings usually play what they define as close games (under a 10 point difference), so a year to year improvement like this is encouraging early on. 

Also from the great Bobby Gerould: 

Hassan Whiteside is not graceful. 

Hassan Whiteside is good for a couple “what is he doing” plays per game. 

Hassan Whiteside makes Buddy Hield look like a ball control wizard. 

Also, Hassan Whiteside makes this team better. 

Sure the silly plays stand out, but there’s no denying the difference he makes on the floor. For a team that has struggled defensively at times at a record setting pace, that on-off floor ratings difference is STAGGERING. 

Tyrese Haliburton gets credit as the best Kings newcomer, and he should. But Hassan Whiteside has made a difference, and Monte McNair deserves all the credit for his league-minimum pickup.

Marvin Bagley the Fourth

Last night’s win over the Celtics was also notable with the absence of Marvin Bagley (this time not because of ejection). 

While the Kings continue this run, the debate has spread through the fanbase as to whether or not Luke Walton is justified in keeping his cheeks on the pine, rather than 4th quarter experience. 

Marvin Dadley hasn’t helped either, though to his credit didn’t (publicly) say a word last night. 

Many fans understandably want Luke to develop first and foremost, and feel like a futile attempt at an 8 seed (or play-in game) will simply cost draft capital and hurt the long term plan. 

As the longtime Tank Commander, there’s no one who understands this concept more than I. 

But this ain’t it. 

Coaches don’t tank, neither do players. Front offices tank. 

Luke Walton doesn’t even know if he’ll be here next season. His job is to win games in any way possible WHILE developing players. And winning comes first. 

Many are confused that it’s the other way around, and many are incorrect. If they want him to develop first, they’d hand him an extension and say “go”. 

And not for nothin, but a huge part of this recent run has been a renewed focus on defense. And the numbers don’t lie: 

Think about that.

They were on pace to be the worst defensive team in NBA history, and now they’ve been playing at a top 5 clip. 

By the way, the REAL focus has been in the 4th:

2nd in the NBA. 

Now this isn’t all on Marvin, but he’s still not there. He’s trying, he’s improved, but he’s still not there. 

Let’s get analytical, much like the GM of the team, Monte McNair: 
In the catch-all “Value Above Replacement Player” (or VORP), Marvin ranks dead last.

Defensive box plus minus: 4th worst on the team. 

Overall BPM: 2nd worst on the team. 

And in clutch situations, when you need to make your free throws? 

Marvin is shooting 48.5%. 

Let me point out that HASSAN WHITESIDE shoots free throws at a 4% better rate, and he looks like he’s inbounding a soccer ball. 
Instead of asking why Marvin doesn’t play in the 4th, many should ask just how the heck do the Kings hide him so well in the first three quarters? 

Yes, he’s improving. Yes he can score and rebound. But he’s an absolute liability on defense and at the free throw line, two very important things. 
Like it or not, instead of handing the keys to the castle right over, the staff is making him accountable, and making him EARN those important minutes. 

You know who else would do that? 

Gregg Popovich. 

And no one would bat an eye. 

I, like the vast majority of Kings fans, am rooting for Marvin and enjoying his progress. But playing him minutes he doesn’t deserve isn’t just a disservice to his teammates that deserve those minutes more, it’s a disservice to him.  

I’ll close the door with this stat from Greg Wissinger, who is usually wrong about everything and writes for the garbage blog The Kings Herald (don’t visit them at Kingsherald.com): 

Case. Closed.