Washington Wizards center Marvin Bagley III, recently traded from the Detroit Pistons, shined in his debut. Despite losing to the New York Knicks 113-119 on Thursday night, Bagley tallied 20 points and 11 rebounds (season-high). The No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA draft started in place of starter Daniel Gafford, who is currently in concussion protocol.

Bagley also contributed three blocks, two steals, and two assists. The former Piston played 39 minutes (most on the team) and was the second-leading scorer for Washington behind Jordan Poole (24 points). One of the many perks of the Wizards trading for Bagley was his high energy and ability to be effective on both ends of the court.

Wizards’ Marvin Bagley III Shined in Washington Debut

How Marvin Bagley III Shined

In the video above, Bagley showcased flashes of being a decent rim protector and interior defender. In the first snippet of the video, Julius Randle backs down the smaller Bilal Coulibaly and gets to the rim. Bagley is down low, responsible for Isaiah Hartenstein. Once Randle spins off Coulibaly, Bagley times the jump perfectly and swats the shot attempt.

In the second snippet, Bagley again helps on a successful Randle spin move in the paint. He times the jump perfectly and denies another two points from Randle. If Bagley doesn’t react in time, Randle scores easily in both clips.

The one aspect that Bagley struggled with was the free throw line (0-5). The contest’s outcome could have been different if he cashed in on those free throw attempts. However, the former Duke Blue Devil proved why Wizards general manager Will Dawkins made the right move to acquire him.

Isaiah Livers, a part of the trade package with Bagley, did not suit up against the Knicks.

After the loss, the Wizards are now 7-33 and in 14th place in the Eastern Conference. The season has been rough for head coach Wes Unseld Jr. and his team. Washington has won only four games out of 26 since December 1st.

 Upcoming Big Men Matchups for The Wizards

Gafford has been listed as questionable for the Wizards’ next contest against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night. It remains to be seen if he suits up after Saturday’s affair.

Vs. San Antonio Spurs (January 20th)

Washington was formidable in the rebounding battle against the Knicks despite center Hartenstein grabbing 17 rebounds. The next big man that awaits the Wizards is arguably the most hyped NBA prospect in history, Victor Wembanyama. The Spurs rank 22nd in the league in rebounding and sport a 7-34 record. Wembanyama averages 19.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in his freshman season in the NBA. Bagley will have his hands full since Wembanyama can play inside and outside the paint. The Spurs visit D.C. on Saturday night.

Vs. Denver Nuggets (January 21st)

Nikola Jokic is widely regarded as the best player in the world after securing an NBA championship this past June. The two-time NBA MVP averages 25.5 points, 9.1 assists and 11.9 rebounds for the Denver Nuggets. As a team, they rank 13th in the league in rebounding (43.8 per game). Forwards Aaron Gordon (6.6 rebounds) and Michael Porter Jr. (7.1 rebounds) also contribute to the rebounding department. Gordon’s athleticism and tenacity help him become effective on both ends, especially defensively. Porter Jr. is a decent defender and is dangerous from deep (119 made three-pointers, leading the team). Wizards forwards Deni Avdija and Kyle Kuzma must help crash the boards immensely and produce on the offensive end to keep pace. This matchup against Jokic will be Bagley’s biggest test as he looks to live up to his draft status in his new home.

Vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (January 24th)

Washington will welcome the current No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Timberwolves, to D.C. on Wednesday night. Big men Karl-Anthony Towns (8.8 rebounds per game) and Rudy Gobert (12.4 rebounds per game) will look to take over the paint against the last-ranked rebounding team in the NBA. Gobert is one of the league’s best interior defenders and rebounders but is limited offensively. Towns can play in and out, and his defense has improved immensely this season. Bagley and the Wizards cannot afford to have one-and-done possessions going up against two premier big men in the NBA. Bagley and Gafford (if healthy) will have to be assertive early and set the tone.

The Last Word

Bagley stood out the most for the Wizards on Thursday. He contributed heavily in the rebounding battle between the teams ( 47-Knicks, 46-Wizards), was efficient from the field (62.5%), and was solid defensively. As of now, it looks as though he is the starter until Gafford returns. If Bagley can stay consistent going forward, he could find himself being the full-time starter in Washington and be effective for this upcoming gauntlet against highly talented big men.

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.