Kings

Kings rookie Harry Giles can find motivation in Joel Embiid's monster deal

Kings rookie Harry Giles can find motivation in Joel Embiid's monster deal

SACRAMENTO -- Pregame locker room buzz centered around Joel Embiid and the mega-deal he inked Monday in Philly. After just 31 games played over three years, the 76ers paid their 23-year-old center a whopping $148 million over five years.

Embiid’s talent has never been in question. Taken with the third overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, the 7-footer out of Kansas can do it all. In his limited action, he’s posted 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocks in just 25.4 minutes per night.

But a series of injuries, beginning with a stress fracture in his lower back during his lone season with the Jayhawks has put his career in a holding pattern. While going through the draft process, Embiid broke his right foot and needed a second surgery on the same foot a year later when the break didn’t heal.

He was the odds on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year trophy last season before a knee injury shut him down in late January. Back, foot and knee ailments are the big man trifecta, but still, the Sixers are banking on his tremendous potential.

Sacramento has a rookie that is watching the Embiid situation closely from afar. Despite going through warmups with the team on Monday night and being healthy enough to make it through training camp, 19-year-old Harry Giles won’t suit up in a game for the Kings until January at the earliest.

“Congrats to him, he’s an amazing player and he deserves every bit of it,” Giles said of Embiid. “For a guy who’s been through injury like myself and understand how hard it is to bounce back and have the performances he’s had is incredible.”

Giles has a unique perspective. He was the no. 1 high school player in the country and on his way to superstardom when a series of knee injuries hit. First, an ACL and MCL tear in his left knee between his freshman and sophomore season put him on the shelf. One game into his senior year, he tore the ACL in his left knee and before his freshman year at Duke, he underwent a scope on the left knee to clean it up.

Embiid’s path isn’t one that anyone would choose, but the outcome is encouraging for a young player like Giles.

“For me, how can I not be motivated,” Giles said. “I’m in the same kind of position as him in a way, coming off of injuries and kind of having a slow and having to be patient and thinking long-term.”

With plenty of time to watch for the bench, Giles is working with the Kings’ medical and training staff to build strength in his core and legs. They will re-examine his knees in January, which is the two-year mark from his second ACL injury.

“I’m going in, just working hard to just develop myself the best I can - my body and my game,” Giles said.

While the trainers are doing their work, the coaching staff will attempt to build his knowledge and understanding of the game. He will participate in practices, where the club can control as many variables as possible and there is hope that he will see court time before the season is done.

For now, Giles will have plenty of time on his hands to think about his path forward. He see’s the value in the Kings’ cautious approach and looks forward to proving himself the same way that Embiid has.

Things could get interesting for Kings if this version of George Hill sticks around

Things could get interesting for Kings if this version of George Hill sticks around

SACRAMENTO -- There was a George Hill sighting Tuesday evening at Golden 1 Center. The veteran point guard has struggled both on and off the court early in the 2017-18 season. But against the Phoenix Suns, he looked like the player folks have become accustomed to seeing over his 10-year NBA career.

“He was very assertive offensively, got a couple of shots to go down,” head coach Dave Joerger said following the 99-92 victory. “We need him to be a playmaker.”

Hill started early, scoring eight of his team-high 18 points in the first quarter. He knocked down two 3-pointers in the period and picked up three early steals as the Suns played hot potato with the ball.

“It was really nice to see him make some shots and not only that, he made some plays (and) rebounded pretty good,” rookie Frank Mason III said. “I think it’s really good to see him get going and I still think he can play better.”

Sacramento spent big money on Hill over the summer, locking him up on a three-year, $57 million deal. The hope was that he could solidify the point guard position while helping to develop Mason and fellow rookie De’Aaron Fox.

“I’m just trying to help the young fellas learn and mentor them and try to figure it out as we go,” Hill said.

Down from his career-best 16.9 points per game last season in Utah, Hill came into the game against Phoenix averaging just 9.0 points and 2.4 assists in 25.5 minutes per game. He’s shooting the ball well, but he’s not getting the volume of shots he’s become accustomed to during his decade of service in the league.

Adding to his on-court struggles, Hill has missed two games due to two separate personal family issues off the court, including Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors.

With Hill back in the mix, the Kings found a rhythm late against a talented, but young Suns roster. They erased a five-point deficit in the fourth with a 13-0 run to come away with the win and improve to 5-5 over their last 10 games.

“He’s a big part of this,” Zach Randolph said of Hill’s breakout game. “Without him on top, this game is going to be hard for us. We need G to play like that every game.”

With the game still in the balance, Joerger turned back to his veteran leader at the 5:07 mark of the fourth with the Kings still trailing 85-82. He responded with a basket 30 seconds later to give Sacramento a lead and he helped push the team’s advantage to double-digits at the 25.9 mark of the fourth while seeing time at the power forward position.

It was just the second time this season that Hill has reached 18 points in a Kings uniform, with his season-high of 21 coming in game no. 2 of the campaign. He shot 6-for-9 from the field and knocked down 2-of-3 from behind the arc. He added seven rebounds and three steals to help the Kings improve to 9-18 on the season.

Hill isn’t the only Kings player struggling to find his niche through 27 games, but the Kings are a different team when he is on. Randolph is anchoring the post. Buddy Hield is proving the scoring punch off the bench. If Hill can give the team a reliable backcourt presence, things might get a whole lot more interesting in Sacramento.

Gameday: Kings favored against worst-in-defense Suns

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USATSI

Gameday: Kings favored against worst-in-defense Suns

SACRAMENTO -- With another road trip starting on Thursday in Minnesota, the Sacramento Kings hit their home floor looking for a win Tuesday evening against the Phoenix Suns. They’ll face a young team missing their best player and riding a three game losing streak.

The Kings have been hit and miss throughout the season, but an outline for success is beginning to form. The starting unit is still struggling on most nights, but the reserves are playing out of their mind. Zach Randolph has turned back the clock, and young players like Buddy Hield, Frank Mason III and Bogdan Bogdanovic are carving out niches for Sacramento.

Phoenix can score with the best of them, but they have the NBA’s worst defense, allowing an incredible 115 points per game. They’re without sharpshooter Devin Booker for the next few weeks, but they have plenty of firepower to work with.

LINE

Kings by 4.5

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 8-18

Suns: 9-19

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Skal Labissiere vs. Marquese Chriss... part II -- Labissiere is fresh off a trip to the G-League to jump start his season. He hasn’t had the breakout campaign that many expected, but he showed signs of coming around against the Raptors. Chriss has struggled all season, both as a starter and off the bench. The Sacramento native will have plenty of fans in the stands as he tries to convert potential to production at Golden 1 Center.

INJURY REPORT

Kings: C/PF Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) game-time decision, but he participated in shoot around and is expects to suit up, PF Harry Giles (bi-lateral knee rehab) is out until January at the earliest.

Suns: SG Devin Booker (adductor strain) out, SF Jared Dudley (toe) questionable, PG Brandon Knight (ACL tear) out for the season, G Davon Reed (knee) out, PF Alan Williams (knee) out.

SERIES HISTORY

Sacramento dominated the season-series 3-1 last season, but the Suns snuck out a 117-115 win over the Kings early in the 2017-18 campaign. Phoenix leads the all-time series 132-90 and they hold an 85-51 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Willie Play? -- Willie Cauley-Stein has made a huge impact off the Kings bench. The third-year big is posting 16.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in 28.5 minutes over seven games with the second unit. He’s missed three straight with a lower back strain, but he was confident following Monday’s practice that he would return to action against the Suns.  

Aggressive Fox -- The Kings have been patient with the fifth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. The 19-year-old point guard turned the ball over seven times and looked lost against veteran Kyle Lowry on Sunday. He attacked late in the game, showing a side that the Kings’ coaching staff has been begging to see. Tyler Ulis and Mike James are both young and inexperienced, which might give Fox an opportunity to shine.   

Feed the Beast -- Zach Randolph is on a roll. The 36-year-old big man continues to anchor the Kings offense. He’ll get a test against veterans Tyson Chandler and Greg Monroe, but he’s handled himself well against bigger names. The Kings need him to continue his strong play if they hope to start leapfrogging teams in the standings.

QUOTE

“I pretty much released myself today. I wasn’t trying to baby it. I just wanted to get out and blow the air out of lungs and try to get back into playing shape.” -Willie Cauley-Stein on returning to practice on Monday.