Kings

Young Kings look to get out and run: 'It’s going to be a fun way to play'

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AP

Young Kings look to get out and run: 'It’s going to be a fun way to play'

Since the moment Vivek Ranadivé purchased the Sacramento Kings, he’s begged, if not openly demanded that the team push the tempo. Under Michael Malone, the word “pace” became the beginning and end of every sentence. It carried through the George Karl era, but there was very little talk about the speed of the game under Dave Joerger last season.

To force the action only took away from the franchise’s primary strength, All-Star big man, DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings weren’t built to run. Cousins wasn’t built to run. Pushing the tempo only put more stress on the 6-foot-11, 280-pound center.
Cousins is now out of the picture and Sacramento has the assets to crank up the speed of the game. If the early views of training camp are any indication, that is exactly what they plan to do.

With the point guard position featuring veteran George Hill and rookie De’Aaron Fox, the Kings have plenty of quickness to run and gun. They also have fresh legs up and down the roster, including young bigs that can get out and move.

“They always tell me to stay in attack mode,” Fox told NBC Sports California. “Anytime a ball comes off the glass or even a made basket, they want me to initiate the offense and just try to push and attack first.”

With Fox’s ability to get up and down the floor, he needs options that can run the court with him. Sacramento is blessed with bigs that can really move, including Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Harry Giles and Kosta Koufos. Even 7-foot-1 Georgios Papagiannis can fly up and down the court for a man his size.

“It takes pressure off of me,” Fox said about the speed of his bigs. “I don’t have to use as much energy to try and beat everybody down the court when I know my big will beat his opponent big down the floor.”

The Kings hope to be a hard-nosed defensive team that plays the passing lanes and hustles. While the defensive numbers weren’t great last season, they have added more length and quickness this summer. Despite the 33-win season, they developed into a team that fought from beginning to end of each game, which is something they hope to carry over into this campaign.

“We’re going to be a team that works hard, that gets after you,” veteran Garrett Temple said on Tuesday. “And we’re going to be a team that respects the game. We’re going to be a pretty fast team, we’re going to get out and run. And it’s going to be a fun way to play basketball.”

The grit and grind that Joerger brought with him from Memphis will show up here and there when the team features veteran Zach Randolph. At 36, Randolph isn’t out shopping for track shoes, but there is definitely a niche for him with the current team make up.

“Zach is fired up about running,” Joerger said with a smile. “We just tell Z-Bo, you get the rebound, you huck it and we’ll go like heck and if we don’t have anything, we’ll bring it over to the big fella.”

Randolph played solid minutes for Memphis last season and brings something that the Kings’ other bigs lack. To use a basketball term, players like Cauley-Stein and Labissiere are “light in the rear-end,” which is not the case for Z-Bo. Randolph can show them the ropes of establishing position early and holding the spot, but they both need to continue to fill out and get stronger.

Until the bigs get more comfortable holding their position, it’s likely that Joerger will turn to Randolph down the stretch of games. He is one of the more established low post threats in the game and his 18-20 foot jumper is pure.

“I think we all know that games are won in halfcourt in the last six minutes, so you want to be able to execute and lay that down too,” Joerger said. “Guys are learning. It’s a little bit different for some guys.”

Joerger and his staff are putting in more and more sets as camp goes on, but they are limiting the younger players' options to help simplify the offense. The first line of attack is to push the tempo. If that fails to yield a hoop, then the Kings will turn to simplified play sets and add more wrinkles as time permits.

Expect plenty of wild, end-to-end hoops. Also expect plenty of mistakes as the Kings try to mask their inexperience by running their opponents into the ground.

Kings add former WNBA head coach Jenny Boucek to coaching staff

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AP

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. 

Gameday: First of many battles between De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr

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USATI

Gameday: First of many battles between De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr

After falling to the Houston Rockets in the home opener, the Sacramento Kings hit the road for a three game trip beginning Friday night in Dallas. They’ll face a Mavericks team that is also looking for their first win of the season following a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday evening.

Dave Joerger’s Kings gave the Rockets all they could handle at Golden 1 Center before an error by the officiating crew cost them a valuable possession late. The effort and intensity was present, but Sacramento’s lack of experience makes late game situations an adventure.

Coach Rick Carlisle is trying to balance the old with the new in Dallas, starting veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Wes Matthews alongside Yogi Ferrell, Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. Seven players scored in double-figures in the Mavs opener as they enter the season without a true number one scoring option.

BETTING LINE

Mavs by 5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Dennis Smith Jr. -- Fox worked his way up the draft board, hearing his name called with the fifth overall selection by Sacramento. He’s the future and maybe even the present for a Kings team looking to rebuild. Smith had to wait a little longer for his moment on draft night. Taken with the ninth pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the former NC State guard is an incredible athlete and may have found the perfect landing spot for his skill set. Smith sports a 48-inch vertical leap and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. This is the first of many battles between these two top-tier talents.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 0-1

Mavs: 0-1

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle sprain) is out, PF Zach Randolph (oral surgery) is probable, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out

Mavs: G Seth Curry (leg) out, F Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) out

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings took the season series over the Mavs last year 2-1. Dallas hold a 92-66 advantage over the Kings all-time, and a 75-54 lead during the Sacramento-era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

ALL HANDS ON DECK? - Zach Randolph and Bogdan Bogdanovic missed the opener due to injury. Randolph has had a few days to recover from oral surgery and might be ready in time to retake his starting power forward spot. Bogdanovic is nursing an ankle injury, but is getting close to a return. If Bogdanovic is healthy, he’ll play and possibly even start for Joerger.

WILLIE FIND CONSISTENCY? - Willie Cauley-Stein put up 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the opener. If Randolph returns, Cauley-Stein’s role will change slightly, but the Kings need the same effort and energy every night from their third-year big.

TEMPLE TIME - Garrett Temple struggled with his shot, hitting just 1-of-7 from the field off Joerger’s bench on Wednesday. That didn’t stop the veteran wing from putting on a defensive show. He finished the night with four steals and countless deflections as he faced off with James Harden and Eric Gordon. The young players could learn a lot from the eight-year vet.

QUOTE

“These young guys play hard, they want to be good, they want to win and they want to learn.” -Vince Carter on the Kings’ young core