The movie Don’t Lie: Did Marvin Bagley III Reform as a Defender After Arriving in Detroit?

There will be plenty of time to continue the debate about the contract Troy Weaver gave to Marvin Bagley III this off-season. A lot of digital ink has already been spilled on whether this was an irrelevant or serious overpay for the overall pick after his 18-game audition for the former No. Detroit Pistons Made him a three-year, $37 million deal.

No doubt Bagley came to Detroit and immediately provided a lift to the offense in dire need of a big man who could finish over the rim. The sheer volume of Bagley’s worn lobe passes made the piston more fun to watch. He also made an impact on the offensive boards. Bagley had the juice, and I’m not really concerned about the cost of the squeeze.

What really worries me is his defense. More specifically it concerns how much, how much better he can get, and his limits on that end are more about the player or the situation in which he found himself in Sacramento.

When the trade happened, I immediately went to the movie and came upon the defensive end of the floor with something worried about him. In my original article on Bagley, I even wrote that it was not about being positive on his defense. Instead, I wrote, “I think it will be a big win for Bagley III to be a neutral defender at the defensive end of the floor.”

The piston fanbase pushed back. I realized I was still calling MBIII a bad defender, even though I hadn’t taken the time to break the film from his time with Detroit. He had a point. Maybe his time with the Pistons had improved defense and people will still punish him with the first impressions of his disastrous stint with the Kings. So, I went to see the film to find out. I picked five games in which Bagley played big minutes and one was in the wrong trouble. I also looked at every defensive possession he played a part in.

I always keep ball-screen assets in the “on-ball” category, even for the big ones, so we’ll start there. Most of the assets we got from the MBIII were “switches”. As the breakdown shows, Bagley showed up enough to leave you thinking there was some growth potential. He’s never going to be Isaiah Stewart in that department, but there were a number of assets where he used his length and ability to hold his hips well.

My biggest concern? get a team like you Celtics Joe targets him and pits him against Jaylen Brown over and over again, and he just won’t catch up. Of course, these are issues that probably don’t show up until you’re in the playoffs or when the game really slows down at the end of regulation.

Another coverage you can use is “drop” coverage, and I was honestly surprised about the number of “drop” coverage properties I’ve seen from Bagley. Simply put, I thought the MBIII drop in property was worse than the switch property. Drop coverage often relies on your teammates to do their job, but Bagley was having a hard time “playing both” in this coverage. He often left the lob pass or easy lay-up to the ball handler.

As we look at MBIII as a whole with the ball, the biggest thing I want to see him develop is a way to protect the rim. It may come from blocking the right shot, but I question whether it’s possible given the numbers and anticipation and time constraints he has had so far in his career. This could be from playing with verticality or, as strange as it may sound, becoming proficient in taking charge.

To say that the biggest development is off the ball is actually a good thing. When I wrote that article back in February, I said “the first thing that struck me was my lack of awareness with the ball,” and I wasn’t sure about its history of improvement in the league. While I’m still not sure he’s reached that level of neutrality with his off-the-ball awareness, I feel comfortable saying that from what I saw with the Kings, it was in those games with the Pistons. was better. Maybe it was a change of scenery, maybe it was coaching, maybe something else entirely, but I can say that I’m excited to see if I continue to improve in my first full season with the Pistons.

The last thing I want to highlight from film studies was Bagley’s amount of communication. Maybe it was something I missed or overlooked while watching with the Kings, but it wasn’t enough to make an appearance in my article or video breakdown from six months ago. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of communication he displayed in the five games I watched, and this is something that can be very useful/helpful when assembling a defensive team.

The purpose of this breakdown was not to try to justify the contract GM Troy Weaver had given to Marvin Bagley III one way or another. At the end of the day, I’m not sure we’ll have the answer to that question for a year or two. I just wanted to answer the question, was the MBIII better with the Pistons than the Kings on defense? I feel confident to say this… Yes, with the caveat. Just because he was better doesn’t mean he was good or even has reached the marker I was looking for in February to be net neutral. He still has growth to do, but what we saw in that short stint last season is a good sign we can see him moving forward.

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