Bogdan Bogdanovic

Future looks bright for Kings rookies Fox, Bogdanovic

Future looks bright for Kings rookies Fox, Bogdanovic

The future of the Sacramento Kings was on full display Monday evening in Phoenix. No, the Kings couldn’t complete the comeback to a Suns team wrought with franchise turmoil. But wins and losses are secondary to development in the 2017-18 season and a development is developing.

With the starters getting run over, coach Dave Joerger went to two of his rookies in the backcourt and they instantly turned the tide of a game that was slipping out of control.

De’Aaron Fox has become a constant highlight through four games in Sacramento, but he had a wingman Monday against the Suns. Serbian sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic made his long awaited NBA debut and the early returns were inspiring.

The young duo helped erase a lead that pushed as high as 22 points in the first half. If not for a couple of bad breaks down the stretch, the Kings very well could have come back and stole the game from Phoenix.

“We have great communication on the court,” Bogdanovic told reporters of his pairing with Fox. “He’s capable of doing many things, he’s a versatile player. And we have to listen to each other - what we have to say. Communication is the most important thing when you want to build something great.”

Fox keyed in on the communication piece as well. At 25-years-old, Bogdanovic has been a professional in Europe for years. He isn’t your run of themill rookie wandering the court in a dazed state.

“He just talks like he’s a veteran,” Fox said of Bogdanovic. “He hasn’t been in the NBA, but he’s been a pro for long. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s kind of like my vet on the court.”

Bogdanovic is smooth and methodical. He plays well with the ball in his hands or coming off a screen.

Fox is a flash, running the court with reckless abandon and finishing above the rim. The combination of the two worked well from the moment they stepped on the floor together.

“He’s such a smart player, he’s so good,” Fox said. “The chemistry with us is through the roof right now and I feel like we’ll just get better.”

After missing the last week of preseason and the first three games of the regular season with an ankle injury, Bogdanovic looked gassed in the second half. He started the game 5-of-7 from the field and then missed his final eight shots.

“As you can see, the second half I was a little bit out of my energy,” Bogdanovic admitted in post game. “I will need a couple of games, a couple of hard practices to get back into shape.”

Even at less than 100 percent, Bogdanovic showed promise on both ends of the floor.

Fox stuffed the stat sheet, finishing the night with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and just one turnover in 30 minutes.

It’s just one game, but you want your young players to command minutes with their play on the court. This tandem looks ready to compete for a bigger role.

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

smith-dennis-dunk.jpg
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

Kings will be shorthanded in exhibition finale vs Warriors

fox-deaaron-point.jpg
USATI

Kings will be shorthanded in exhibition finale vs Warriors

The goal of preseason is to escape without injury. Unfortunately, the Sacramento Kings have failed to achieve that goal.

With the regular season just five days away, Sacramento faces uncertainty with three of its rotational players. Rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox will miss his second straight preseason contest Friday night with a lower back bruise.

The 19-year-old participated in practice on Wednesday and appears to be on pace to return for Wednesday’s home opener against the Houston Rockets. The prognosis isn’t nearly as clear for guards George Hill and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Hill left the Kings 104-87 loss to the Clippers on Thursday evening with a groin issue. After further evaluation, the veteran point guard has been diagnosed with a right groin strain. Hill struggled with the same injury last season, missing six games over a two week period during late March and early April.  

Sacramento’s medical staff has diagnosed Bogdanovic with a right ankle sprain. The 25-year-old rookie injured his ankle on the last play of the third quarter on Thursday night when he came down on the foot of teammate Kosta Koufos while trying to defend a last second shot.

Fox, Hill and Bogdanovic are all listed as day-to-day.