Buddy Hield

Five takeaways from the Kings' 20-point preseason loss to the Spurs

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USATSI

Five takeaways from the Kings' 20-point preseason loss to the Spurs

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After dispatching the San Antonio Spurs in the preseason opener on Monday night at Golden 1 Center, the Sacramento Kings traveled to Texas for a rematch on Friday. With half the team sitting out to rest, the Kings came up short, falling 113-93 for their first lost of the preseason.

1- De’Aaron Fox went to work. With George Hill sitting (along with the rest of the veterans), Fox picked up his first start and didn’t disappoint. The rookie scored 12 points and dished out six assists in 24 minutes of action. He’s an elite talent, but for him to take the next step as a point guard, he has to learn how to run a team. You’ll take a 6-to-2 assists-to-turnover ratio in a player’s second game as a pro. 

2- Buddy Hield joins the competition. After watching Temple start on Monday in Sacramento, Hield took full advantage of his opportunity on Friday. The second-year guard went off for 12 points on 3-for-6 shooting and hit a perfect 5-of-5 from the line. He was aggressive going to the rack, but he needs to find a way to involve others outside of the occasional ally-oop. 

3- Bogdan Bogdanovic knows how to play. With ball and player movement slowing to a crawl, the 25-year-old Serb came into the game and instantly started setting up his teammates. He started with a hook pass to Frank Mason for an open jumper and then sent a low post entry pass to a well established Papagiannis for a baby hook. Bogdanovic has an advanced feel and could easily steal minutes as a primary ball handler and distributor. He finished the night with four points, three assists and two rebounds in 16 minutes. Expect the Kings to take it easy on Bogdanovic in the preseason after a long summer of basketball in Europe. 

4- Willie Cauley-Stein wants to score. After finishing last season as the starter at the center position, Cauley-Stein is brimming with confidence. Against the Spurs, he pulled up for jumpers, ran the floor like a gazelle and even finished around the rim. The Kings would love to see the third year pro post 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting and chip in nine rebounds on a nightly basis.

5- A Georgios Papagiannis sighting. The Kings spent the 13th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft on the 7-footer out of Greece. He’s had a few moments here and there, but overall has struggled with the speed of the game. Against the Spurs, he looked confident, finishing the night with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes. It’s only preseason, but it's nice to see improvement from young players. 

Preseason Game 1 vs Spurs a night of firsts for Kings rookies

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AP

Preseason Game 1 vs Spurs a night of firsts for Kings rookies

SACRAMENTO -- A night of firsts. When you walk into a season with five rookies, there are going to be a few new experiences for the team’s young players. While none of the Sacramento Kings’ draft class started the game, four of them played a role in the club’s 106-100 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Sacramento’ prized rookie point guard, De’Aaron Fox, showed well in the preseason opener, scoring 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting with the second unit. He added two assists, a steal and a block in 16 minutes of action.

Coming off the bench was something new for Fox. According to the 19-year-old speedster, he’s started every game he’s ever played in.  

“Skal (Labissiere) just kept telling us, ‘watch the flow of the game, see what’s going on out there,’” Fox said following the win. “As far as me, I’ve never come off the bench before, it was something different.”

The rookie drew a huge ovation when he came in the game and he didn’t disappoint. He has elite speed and he played under control. He’ll need time to develop, but there’s no question that he is an NBA player.

After years of starring in the European leagues and in international play, Bogdan Bogdanovic suited up in an NBA uniform for the first time.

“Finally, a dream come true, really,” the Serbian wing said. “I felt that I was an NBA player on the court. I’ll take this chance to thank my fans here. I was really surprised they cheered for me after the substitution and the most important thing is the win.”

Bogdanovic, 25, was the first player to enter the game off the bench. He subbed in for NBA legend Vince Carter, who welcomed him to the court with a huge smile.

While his numbers don’t jump off the page, Bogdanovic looked comfortable in his 13 minutes of action, coming away with two points and three rebounds. He made a concerted effort to get his teammates involved and even ran the offense flanked by Fox and second-year shooting guard Buddy Hield.

Frank Mason is no stranger to the big stage. The NCAA National Player of the Year put on show in 17 minutes of play, leading the team in both scoring (17 points) and rebounding (six boards). Coach Dave Joerger is going to have a difficult time keeping the spark plug off the court if he keeps putting up numbers.  

“I really don’t like to talk about myself, it’s all about the team,” Mason said. “I think we did a pretty good job as a team, because we won the game and that’s the main goal.”

Mason was instant offense every time he stepped on the floor. The 23-year-old took the Spurs off the dribble and hit a variety of floaters in the lane. He also knocked down 2-for-4 from long range and 5-of-6 from the line as he attacked San Antonio’s backcourt.

Rookie Justin Jackson had a rough shooting night, scoring just one point on 0-for-7 shooting over 23 minutes. It’s a blip on the radar for the former North Carolina Tarheel. Jackson is expected to fight for minutes at the small forward position this season for the Kings.

Sacramento selected Harry Giles out of Duke with the 20th overall pick, but they plan on taking it slow with the 19-year-old power forward. Despite participating in training camp all week, Giles sat out due to bilateral knee rehab. There is no word on whether Giles will play during the preseason schedule.

The Kings took Tuesday off to rest, but they'll be back on the practice floor on Wednesday and Thursday before flying to San Antonio to face the Spurs for the second time on Friday evening.

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

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AP

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

The Sacramento Kings are attempting to do something rarely seen in the NBA. They’ve paired four first round selections from the 2016 NBA Draft with another five rookies for the 2017-18 season. They’ll open the season with nine players with one year of NBA experience or less and three others with two years in the league or fewer if you include two-way contracts.

Veterans Vince Carter (40), Zach Randolph (36), George Hill (31), Garrett Temple (31) and Kosta Koufos (28) push the average age of the Kings to 26.1. According to RealGM, they’ll enter the 2017-18 season tied for the 15th youngest roster in the league.

If you remove the veterans, the Kings youthful core averages less than 22 years of age. But age doesn’t tell the entire story.

Entering his third NBA season, Willie Cauley-Stein has seen action in 141 of a possible 164 games. On the current roster, he might as well get lumped in with the veterans.

Buddy Hield donned a Kings uniform for 25 games last season after coming over in a midseason trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. He played 82 games in total between the two clubs, which is five more combined contests than his fellow 2016 draft mates Skal Labissiere (33 games), Georgios Papagiannis (22 games) and Malachi Richardson (22 games) played in.

Sacramento selected three first rounders in the 2017 NBA Draft, including De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. They also landed point guard Frank Mason III with an early second round pick and convinced 25-year-old former first rounder Bogdan Bogdanovic to leave the European game behind and join the club.

Without bringing two-way players Jack Cooley (16 games) and JaKarr Sampson (147 games) into the discussion, the Kings have a major experience issue. They’ll walk into the season with 10 players having a combined 300 games of NBA experience and 223 of those games were played by Cauley-Stein and Hield.  

Sacramento’s veteran group has appeared in 3718 regular season contests. Dave Joerger will have no choice but to turn to the group for plenty of minutes as the Kings’ young players learn on the fly.

Patience is necessary. Vlade Divac and his team have assembled a lot of talent, but they will need time to develop. Joerger has a strong staff in place, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. Phil Ricci was also added to the staff as a player development coach this season with the influx of young players.

Even with an expanded staff, there is no way Joerger can fit all 10 of his youngsters into the rotation. They’ll need playing time to develop and there is a good chance that some of these freshman and sophomore players will spend time with Darrick Martin and the Reno Bighorns.