James Ham

Kings rookie Harry Giles healthy, happy, ready to play basketball again

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AP

Kings rookie Harry Giles healthy, happy, ready to play basketball again

SACRAMENTO -- It’s not hard to find high school mixtapes of Harry Giles III. He’s the guy listed under “#1 Rated” or “Best NBA Prospect in High School Basketball” in videos from 2015 and 2016.

The story is well known at this point. Giles, a star at the prep level, tore his ACL in both knees during two separate incidents, causing him to miss two full seasons of hoops before he ever stepped onto an NCAA court.

In his lone season at Duke, Giles required another procedure to clean out his left knee, and that limited him to just 300 minutes as a freshman. By this time, the red flags were out and his stock plummeted.

NBA teams don’t often gamble on a 19-year-old kid who’s gone under the knife three times, but Giles is special. With the risk minimized, the Kings scooped up the talented big man with the 20th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.

"You have your time with doubt, when you’re going through it, ‘Man, I’m not going to make it, I might not get there,' " Giles said about his journey. "But I was young and I knew with time and just hard work, that I could get anywhere I wanted to be. It took time. I had my days of doubt about how good I could be again."

The Kings did right by Giles. They placed him in the hands of their training staff, including Pete Youngman and Manny Romero, who no longer are with the team. The group formulated a plan not only to build strength in Giles’ legs but to strengthen his overall core and prepare him for the rigors of 82 games per season.

Giles sat out his rookie campaign per the medical staff. The Kings kept Giles' development behind the scenes, but murmurs of his progress quietly seeped out of the franchise.

After not playing a minute of real basketball, Giles made his debut at the 2018 California Classic followed by Las Vegas Summer League. The first signs that he was ready came early in the exhibition season when the staff allowed him to go in back-to-back games without minute limitations.

During the preseason, Giles posted 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 22.1 minutes per game. He struggled with foul trouble in a few games, but it won’t take him long to learn the nuances of the NBA.

After sitting out most of his senior year in high school, playing just 300 minutes at Duke and redshirting last season, Giles is ready to contribute from the jump. He’s in Kings coach Dave Joerger’s rotation coming into the season and is anxious to prove that he's back to the player that made him one of the country's top prep athletes.

“I think the sky's the limit,” Giles said of his potential. “I’m saying that in the most humble way possible, because I believe in myself and I’ve seen what I’ve come back from multiple times. I know it’s for a reason. So I have to go out there and show what I’m here to do.”

It’s one of the better storylines coming into the season. Giles has a huge personality and a million-dollar smile. He's the type of player who might be able to change the direction of a franchise if he can stay healthy.

He's also wise beyond his years. Giles is glad that people are excited to see him finally take the floor in a real game, but he has a message for the crowd as well.

“I think you just have to be patient with us,” Giles said. “Our concern is people are going to expect us to be great in one day or one week. That’s not what it is. No team becomes great in a week. The NBA champions, they didn’t become good in a year or two. It took time.”

Giles already is a fan favorite. With any luck, he’ll build on his preseason success and have a big rookie campaign.

The injury worries always will be there, but Giles has done everything in his power to get on the floor, and he’s ready to prove he belongs.

Kings guard De'Aaron Fox makes love for Sacramento clear in new video

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USATSI

Kings guard De'Aaron Fox makes love for Sacramento clear in new video

SACRAMENTO -- De’Aaron Fox made it clear the first day that he arrived in Sacramento that he loves the city. He may have even made it clear before he was drafted by the Kings with the fifth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

Before the start of his sophomore campaign with the Kings, the 20-year-old turned to the Players’ Tribune to send his adopted hometown and the fans of the team a little more love. 

“If I’ve learned one thing from being here, maybe it’s not surprising that we get overlooked, or even disrespected, but we don’t tolerate it,” Fox says in the clip. “Sacramento, you don’t ask for a lot. Just that we’re all in, like you are.”

“I don’t want to make any promises I can’t keep, but I’ll promise this, you fought for us, for this team, this franchise and this city, and that’s why we’ll fight for you,” the former Kentucky star continued.   

Fox came into training camp in great shape and with a more mature outlook on the game. He’s hoping to take on a leadership role for a club in desperate need of someone to step forward. 

A breakout season from Fox would go a long ways towards improving the prospects of a Kings team that comes in with reasonably low expectations this season. 

Kings stats projections for the 2018-19 NBA season

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AP

Kings stats projections for the 2018-19 NBA season

SACRAMENTO -- The season is a little over 24 hours away. NBA basketball is almost back. As of Oct. 16, the Sacramento Kings, like every other team in the league, sit at 0-0 with a clean slate and a hopeful view of the upcoming season. 

Every year there are player predictions from a myriad of places around the internet. One of the most reliable sources for numerical information on the NBA comes from the site, basketball-reference.com.

This season, we took a look into their “Simple Projection System” for per 36 minute production and matched it up against the latest information collected in Sacramento. It’s an imperfect method, especially for players who are expected to play sparingly, but it’s an interesting exercise as we prepare for opening night. 

De’Aaron Fox 

2018-19 Proj: 15.5 points, 5.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 42.9% FG, 32.5% 3-pts 

The per 36 minutes numbers are safe and closely resemble Fox’s per 36 production from his rookie season. He’s put in the work to improve and the spacing on the floor should be better with the team’s perimeter shooting improvements. Sacramento intends to push the tempo, which could bump Fox’s points and assists numbers higher than his preseason projections.  

Buddy Hield

2018-19 Proj: 18.4 points, 2.7 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 44.7% FG, 42.2% 3-pts 

Hield will benefit from the absence of Bogdan Bogdanovic early in the season, but he’ll likely continue to play the role of six-man throughout the year. Like Fox, Hield did his summer work and has breakout potential. His numbers are lower than expected for a scorer with his potential. If Hield can find a way to get to the free throw line for a few extra points per game, he can take a major jump in production.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

2018-19 Proj: 15.4 points, 4.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 45.1% FG, 39.4% 3-pts 

Balanced and multifaceted, Bogdanovic was the Kings MVP last season. He has the potential to take a leap forward statistically, but two knee procedures during the summer has him out for a minimum of 10 games. There is a good chance Dave Joerger runs the half court offense through Bogdanovic on plenty of possessions, giving him an opportunity for a spike in assist totals. 

Yogi Ferrell

2018-19 Proj: 13.7 points, 4.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 43.0% FG, 38.1% 3-pts 

Ferrell was a late addition to the squad, but he might have a big role. The Kings are going to count on Ferrell as a spark off the bench. He likely won’t see the 27.8 minutes per game he played with the Mavs last season, but in an uptempo, let it fly offense, the point projection per 36 could be a few ticks low, especially if he attempts and hits 3-pointers at the same rate he did last season. 

Frank Mason III

2018-19 Proj: 15.5 points, 5.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 39.8% FG, 36.9% 3-pts 

Mason is in a dogfight for minutes once Bogdanovic returns to action. Until then, he’ll play backup point guard minutes behind Fox. It’s possible his per 36 minute numbers match the stats above, but the sample size will be tough to analyze once the Kings are at full strength. 

Justin Jackson

2018-19 Proj: 11.6 points, 2.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds, .7 steals, 45.4% FG, 32.2% 3-pts 

Jackson will continue to find himself on the court, despite a lack of overall production. The predicted stats are fair, although the rebounding numbers look high. If the Kings can find another wing to compete for minutes, Jackson could struggle to meet the expectations above. 

Nemanja Bjelica

2018-19 Proj: 12.1 points, 2.4 assists, 7.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 44.9% FG, 38.0% 3-pts 

Like Ferrell, Bjelica was a late addition in Sacramento. He’ll play a few minutes a night at the small forward position and the rest will be spent at the stretch four. He’s an interesting player. He has a high basketball IQ and he can really shoot, but he hasn’t really shown what he can do during his three years with the Timberwolves. Bjelica is consistently around the 12-point, 7-rebound mark per 36 minutes. He has potential to shoot well above 38 percent from long range and the rest of these numbers are very obtainable.

Marvin Bagley III

2018-19 Projections unavailable

The Kings are going to turn to both Bagley and Harry Giles III for major minutes this season. Through the exhibition season, Bagley performed well, posting 13 points, 6.8 rebounds and .8 assists in 24.1 minutes per game. The games get decidedly more difficult once the regular season begins, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Bagley to post 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per 36 minutes in his rookie campaign. 

Harry Giles III

2018-19 Projections unavailable

Like Bagley, we don’t have projected numbers for Giles. The redshirt rookie out of Duke showed up big in the preseason, averaging 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 22.1 minutes per game. He struggled early on with foul issues, which will probably pop up now and then throughout the season. Giles is active on plays with a tenacity that will likely earn him more minutes as the season progresses. He should top his raw preseason numbers on a per 36 minute basis and he has an opportunity to become an elite passing big man.

Willie Cauley-Stein

2018-19 Proj: 16.0 points, 2.7 assists, 8.9 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 51.5% FG, 31.1% 3-pts 

Cauley-Stein has a lot riding on this season. He enters the season without a contract extension and he’s playing for a huge payday. The 7-footer out of Kentucky has potential on both ends of the floor, but he’s never found consistency. With Bagley and Giles pushing for minutes and a future with the Kings, Cauley-Stein has the potential to top the predictions. He could also lose time if things go south early in the season.

Skal Labissiere

2018-19 Proj: 15.9 points, 2.2 assists, 8.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 47.6% FG, 36.7% 3-pts 

Before the drafting of Bagley, Labissiere looked like a lock for the rotation. He worked very hard in the summer and looks great coming into the season. Unfortunately, he’s behind Bjelica, Bagley, Giles and Cauley-Stein in the big rotation. He might get an opportunity here and there, but it could be a long season for the Haitian-born big. When opportunity knocks, he has to be ready to perform. 

Ben McLemore 

2018-19 Proj: 14.5 points, 1.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 43.3% FG, 36.4% 3-pts 

McLemore was on the outside looking in coming into camp and was in an uphill battle to make the roster. And then the Bogdanovic injury happened. He’s had a nice camp in his second tour of duty in Sacramento, but once the Kings are at full strength, McLemore will struggle to step on the floor. He can reach the per 36 projections, but he’ll have to do it in short bursts.

Iman Shumpert

2018-19 Proj: 10.4 points, 2.3 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 40.9% FG, 34% 3-pts 

Shumpert is still returning from injuries that cost him all but 14 games last season with the Cavs. He made an appearance against the Jazz and looked rusty. Joerger would love to have a defensie option at the wing. Shumpert fits the mold, but he’ll have to prove that he can string a group of practice and games together before we make any predictions on his performance this season. 

Zach Randolph

2018-19 Proj: 19.7 points, 2.8 assists, 9.9 rebounds, .9 steals, 45.6% FG, 31.2% 3-pts 

Z-Bo was extremely productive last season for the Kings, but it might be a one-and-down situation. The Kings are going young and they want to push the tempo. Randolph is neither young nor a speedster. He failed to make an appearance during the preseason despite being healthy. He can still score in a pinch, but it’s unlikely he’ll play much at all this season for Sacramento. 

Kosta Koufos

2018-19 Proj: 12.5 points, 1.9 assists, 11.1 rebounds, 1.0 blocks, 55.1% FG, 34.2% 3-pts 

Koufos did the prudent thing when he opted in for $8.7 million this season and he did so understanding that his role would be diminished. In a perfect world, Joerger would pair Koufos with Bagley and allow the veteran to teach the rookie the finer nuances of playing defense at the NBA level. It’s not a perfect world and 2K is unlikely to see the court early in the season. The per 36 predictions make sense, but the sample size might be too small to make a true prediction.