Daunting task awaits Dave Joerger, Kings staff during 2017-18 season


Daunting task awaits Dave Joerger, Kings staff during 2017-18 season

The 2017-18 Sacramento Kings season is just around the corner. Media Day is set for Sept. 25th with training camp beginning the following day at the team’s practice facility. Plenty of players have spent the summer in Sacramento honing their skills, but the real work begins when the entire squad hits the court together.

Dave Joerger and his staff have a daunting task in front of them. Not only will they welcome 10 new faces to an overhauled roster, but five of those players have never stepped foot on an NBA court.

Calling the team youthful is an understatement. Outside of the veteran core of Garrett Temple, Vince Carter, Kosta Koufos, Zach Randolph and George Hill, the team is green and lacks experience.

Carter and Randolph played for Joerger in Memphis, which should help. They also boast a combined 35 seasons of NBA experience and can act as player/coaches in certain situations.

Joerger and his staff have five rookies to manage and another four first rounders from last season. He’ll bring back his entire coaching group from the previous campaign - Elston Turner, Brian Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. Sacramento also added local product, Phil Ricci, as an assistant player development coach.

It’s a robust and diverse crew with plenty of knowledge. Most of the coaches came with Joerger from Memphis and have long standing relationships. March gained valuable experience with the young core this offseason when coaching the Kings’ Summer League team in Las Vegas.    

Darrick Martin is back for a second season as the frontman for the Reno Bighorns as the team continues to build synergy between the parent club and the G-League. The Kings will rely heavily on Martin as they shuttle players like Georgios Papagiannis and Harry Giles back and forth between Reno and Sacramento.

This is Year One of the rebuild. With a youth movement comes the need for extra staffing and a cohesive approach. At some point, the Kings need to choose a path and stick to it when it comes to coaching. They currently have the infrastructure in place to bring along a young team, but stability is key when building a roster in this fashion.

Sacramento has paid plenty over the last few years for coaches who are no longer employed by the team. Joerger is different than most of their previous hires. He’s coached a high-quality playoff team and has high expectations for his club. He’s also worked his way through the minor leagues and spent six seasons as an NBA assistant. He understands how to develop talent and he’s found success at every level.

Joerger is entering the second of three guaranteed seasons in Sacramento. With a complete franchise reboot, including the trade that sent All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in February, it’s probably time for the Kings to revisit his fourth-year team option.

Gameday: Big underdogs, Kings face Nuggets looking for second straight win


Gameday: Big underdogs, Kings face Nuggets looking for second straight win

With a win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, the Sacramento Kings are feeling good heading into their first back-to-back on Saturday. They’ll face a Denver Nuggets team that lost their season opener to the Utah Jazz and is looking for their first victory of the season.

The combination of George Hill and De’Aaron Fox at the point guard position was too much for Dallas to handle on Friday. Hill poured in 21 points, including two huge shots down the stretch and Fox came away with his first 10-assist game of his career.

Denver added veteran Paul Millsap in the offseason to match with rising star Nikola Jokic. Jokic struggled in the opener, but still managed to post seven points, eight assists and 12 rebounds. The Kings will have their hands full trying to slow the 7-footer.  

Nuggets by 11

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Nikola Jokic -- Cauley-Stein has posted back-to-back double-doubles to start the season and comes in averaging 15.5 points, 10.5 rebound and two blocks in 29 minutes per game. Jokic is one of the more versatile bigs in the game. He picks and chooses his spots to score, but his passing ability makes him a dangerous player.

Kings: 1-1

Nuggets: 0-1

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out

Nuggets: No injuries to report

These two teams split the season series last year and hold an identical 86-86 record against each other all-time. The Kings lead the Nuggets 65-63 during the Sacramento-era.

MORE TIME FOR FOX - The Kings speedy young guard is showing that he’s ready to carry more of the load. In his first game, he posted 14 points and five assists. In Game Two, he set up his teammates for a team-high 10 assists while adding nine points and six rebounds. He’s averaged 25 minutes a game in the first two, but his play is already commanding more.

GIVING BUDDY SOME LOVE - Lost in the shuffle of the team’s first win was an nice all-around performance from Buddy Hield. The second-year guard was one of eight Kings to grab five rebounds or more against the Mavs, but Hield’s late board in traffic was probably the play of the night. If he can post more 13 point, six rebound, three assist games early in the season, he’ll find himself on the court more often than not.

MORE FROM SKAL NEEDED - Skal Labissiere has all the potential in the world, but he’s off to a quiet start through two contests. He needs to be more aggressive calling for the ball and continue to hit the glass hard. He’s averaging 10 points and 7.5 rebounds in 23 minutes per game, but one of those came with Zach Randolph on the shelf. He’ll need to earn minutes like everyone else on this team.

“My coach has that much confidence in me, a 19-year-old kid to stay on the floor in crunch time, and when he has that confidence in me, my confidence goes up that much more.” -De’Aaron Fox on coach Dave Joerger sticking with him down the stretch in the Kings’ first win.

Kings add former WNBA head coach Jenny Boucek to coaching staff


Kings add former WNBA head coach Jenny Boucek to coaching staff

Dave Joerger likes to think outside the box. He’s a coach that loves to talk hoops and he’s always looking for a fresh approach. In preparation for the 2017-18 season, he reached out to friends in the college and high school ranks with the hopes of gleaning a some small bit of information about coaching an extremely young roster. 
When it came time to assemble his staff, Joerger brought back his entire coaching group from last season and even added local product Phil Ricci to the mix to aid in the development of the team’s 10 players with two years of NBA experience or less.
It’s a deep bench of basketball lifers, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. On Friday, that staff grew by one with the announcement that former WNBA player and coach, Jenny Boucek, is coming aboard as an assistant player development coach.
Boucek visited the team multiple times last season and has been a fixture in the Kings practice facility for most of training camp. With a young an inexperienced roster, Joerger and the front office made the decision to bring her on full-time.
“We have a lot of really good young talent that is really hungry to learn and be in the gym,” Boucek told NBC Sports California. “I know a big part of my role is going to be helping to develop this talent, to just work with this staff and to fill in wherever is needed.”
Joerger and Boucek have known each other for years and share a similar passion for game. Over time, they have used each other as sounding boards for ideas and have a strong respect for one another.
Boucek is no stranger to Sacramento. She coached the Monarchs from 2007-2009, compiling a 40-41 record over her two plus seasons with the team and she spent the last three seasons at the helm of the Seattle Storm. 
“I couldn’t be more excited to get back in this basketball city that just loves and lives for basketball and try to bring an exciting team to this fanbase,” Boucek said.
With the hiring, Boucek becomes the third female assistant coach in NBA history, joining Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman. Hammon currently works as an assistant on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio and Lieberman spent the 2015-16 season as an assistant for George Karl in Sacramento before taking leave for family reasons last season.