Kings

Joerger, Kings' veterans begin camp by building foundation for the future

Joerger, Kings' veterans begin camp by building foundation for the future

Brick by brick, the Sacramento Kings are building a foundation for the future. It started in the offseason with plenty of additions to the infrastructure of the team, but Tuesday afternoon, the on-court work began.

Instead of the sound of basketballs bouncing and sneakers squeaking, the Kings practice facility was empty, except for a ring of media members. After a loaded media day, only Dave Joerger, followed by his team leaders of Garrett Temple and Vince Carter, spoke as cameras rolled.

“Mostly, just what we want to be about,” Joerger said when asked what day one of training camp was like. “What do we want to be about now, what do we want to be about four months from now, what do we want to be about three years from now? And that needs to be the same so there is consistency. What you allow, you encourage. What you demand is hopefully what you get on a daily basis.”

It’s about basics. Joerger and his staff are tasked with bringing along a young core that includes 10 players with two years of NBA experience or less. He will rely heavily on his five veterans to help develop the squad, but eventually, the kids will have to see minutes.

“These guys are asking a lot of questions,” Carter said. “Very attentive and that’s what you want from young guys - willing to listen. What you ask of young guys (is to) humble yourself, sit back and learn, ask questions and I think that’s how you get better faster.”

Carter came into the league with the Toronto Raptors. They had established veterans in Charles Oakley, Kevin Willis, Dee Brown and Doug Christie. Despite his billing as a star in the making, Carter had to start at the same place that the Kings rookies find themselves today - the bottom.

“If I wouldn’t know it, I asked a lot of questions,” Carter said of his early experience in the league. “That helped me. That slowed the game down and I was able to catch on rather quickly. It’s different for every player, so it’s all about understanding who they are and what makes them tick.”

In his 20th season, Carter still expects to play. But he also knows that his role is to mentor and bring up a new generation of NBA players.

Temple sees a lot of the same things that Carter does. The young players are all ears and they’ve been in Sacramento for a while working together to develop chemistry.

“This is the youngest team I’ve ever been on, but it’s fun,” Temple said. “The biggest thing is, we have a group of guys that are good guys. Nobody has any hidden agenda that I’ve seen. When you have teams like that, especially when the guys are young and they’re yearning to learn, it makes basketball fun.”

Temple didn’t have the same path to the league as Carter. He came up in the San Antonio system, but he bounced in and out of the league for years before finally finding a home in Sacramento.

He spent last season as the defacto leader of the team as the franchise hit the reset button. Now he has massive reinforcements in Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph. Along with veteran Kosta Koufos, this group of veterans will not only play, but they will aid in the development of the team’s young players.

After a wild season of ups and downs, Temple is looking forward to sharing some of the load and even taking some tips from his fellow veterans.

“I’m going to learn from Vince Carter on how to be a better leader,” Temple said. “I’m going to learn from Z-Bo, I’m going to continue to learn from Kosta and George - we have other guys, it’s not just me.”

With the NBA pushing the season up 10 days, Joerger gets an abbreviated training camp. Day one is in the books, but a season of building is just around the corner.  

A new face in the crowd:
Veteran point guard Marcus Williams signed with the team early Tuesday. He joins former Duke Blue Devil, Matt Jones, as the only two non-guaranteed contract players on the squad.

Williams, 31, hasn’t played in the league since 2010. The former 22nd overall selection in  the 2006 NBA Draft has played in Puerto Rico, Russia, China, Spain and Serbia over the last few years.

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

He’s not really a rookie. After playing for years overseas, Bogdan Bogdanovic has proven very quickly that he is an NBA player. Midway through his first season in the league, the 25-year-old Serb is finding his stride. 

From the moment he stepped on the floor in Sacramento, Bogdanovic showed flashes of something special. You could see early on that he was trying to fit in and make nice with his teammates, but the honeymoon phase is over. Bogdanovic is no longer holding back.

For the third time in the new calendar year, Bogdanovic set a career-high in scoring on Wednesday evening. He dropped in 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 6-of-6 from long range. 

“I’ve said it all year, he’s not really a rookie, he’s been playing pro ball for so many years,” De’Aaron Fox said of his backcourt mate. “He definitely doesn’t play like a rookie. He brings the intelligence, the savvy, the shooting - defensively, he gets after it. He’s able to do everything for us.” 

He’s pushed his season numbers up to 11.5 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game. Bogdanovic has also raised his shooting percentages drastically as the season has progressed, knocking down 48.8 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from behind the 3-point line. 

In eight games in January, Bogdanovic has taken his game to another level. He’s hit the opposition for 16.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 30.6 minutes a game. Dave Joerger has come to rely on the former Fenerbahce star, even giving him starts in the last two games since the youth movement was officially put into motion.

“I’m working every single day as hard as I can, I’m trying to be the best version of (myself).” Bogdanovic said following the team’s loss to Utah on Wednesday.

It’s a small sample size, but Bogdanovic’s shooting numbers in 2018 are off the charts. He’s hitting 54.8 percent from the floor, a stunning 58.3 percent on the 3-ball and 92.3 percent from the line.

With All-Star weekend on the horizon, Bogdanovic has likely earned his way into an invitation for the Rising Stars Challenge. Amongst rookies, he’s currently seventh in scoring, fourth in 3-point percentage, eighth in field goal percentage and sixth in steals. 

Sacramento’s 2017-18 season is about sifting through the young players and figuring out what they have. It appears the Kings have found a keeper in Bogdanovic. 

Gameday: Memphis homecoming for plenty of Kings

zbo-us.jpg
USATSI

Gameday: Memphis homecoming for plenty of Kings

Want to get away? After dropping six straight games, the Sacramento Kings hit the road for a season long six-game trip beginning Friday in Memphis. 

It’s a homecoming game for plenty of Kings coaches and players, including Zach Randolph, who is playing in front of a Memphis crowd wearing an opposing jersey for the first time in eight years. Dave Joerger and most of his staff came over from the Grizzlies in the summer of 2016 and Vince Carter and Kosta Koufos spent time in Memphis as well.

Memphis has had a rough season, but two-time former King, Tyreke Evans, has made a tremendous impact in his first season with the team. He’s posting big numbers and looks as healthy as he’s been in years.

BETTING LINE 

Grizzlies by 5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Marc Gasol -- Cauley-Stein is blossoming in his third NBA season. He’s become a reliable scoring and rebounding option for the Kings. He’s improved on the defensive end as well, but guard Gasol is as tough as it gets. The 7-foot-1 Spaniard has an old school game. He can pass, hit you from the outside and work you over in the post. Cauley-Stein will have his hands full with the three-time All-Star big.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 13-31, fifth place in Pacific

Grizzlies: 15-28, fourth place in Southwest

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (left shoulder strain) questionable, PG Frank Mason III (heel) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) is out for the season.

Grizzlies: C Marc Gasol (illness) questionable, PG Mike Conley (Achilles) out, SG Andrew Harrison (shoulder) questionable, SF Chandler Parsons (knee) out, SF James Ennis (calf) out, .

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Homecoming -- This should be an emotional night for plenty around the Kings team, especially Randolph. The Grizzlies retired the 36-year-old’s No. 50 jersey, making him the first in franchise history to receive the honor. 

Show Improvement -- The Kings are in a funk, but we are seeing steady improvement from plenty of the team’s young players. Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to post up big numbers, including a career-best 25 against the Jazz on Wednesday.

Break the Streak -- A six-game trip is daunting, especially after a rough stretch. If Sacramento can get out of Memphis with a win, it would take plenty of stress off a young team. 

SERIES HISTORY 

These two teams split their season series 2-2 last season, but Memphis went up 1-0 for the 2017-18 campaign with a win at Golden 1 on New Year’s Eve. The Kings hold a 45-39 advantage over the Grizzlies all-time.