Kings

Count Chris Webber as firm believer in new era of Kings basketball

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USATSI

Count Chris Webber as firm believer in new era of Kings basketball

The Kings have had quite the presence at NBA All-Star Weekend.

First, De'Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley III all stood out during the Rising Stars game.

Then Fox participated in the Skills Challenge, falling to eventual runner-up Trae Young.

He was followed by Hield, who took third place in the 3-Point Contest.

It represents just the second time in franchise history that the Kings have had four players participate in events at mAll-Star Weekend. The last time it happened, well, it was a different era of Kings basketball.

In 2002, Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic were All-Stars, Stojakovic won the 3-Point Contest, Hedo Turkoglu played in the Rising Stars game, and Gerald Wallace competed in the Slam Dunk contest.

That season, of course, finished with a memorable Game 7 loss to the rival Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference finals. The Lakers went on to win the championship that season, and the Kings have never been closer to a title since.

Sacramento entered this All-Star break with a record of 30-27, one game back of the Clippers for the final playoff spot in the West. A new era of Kings basketball has been established, and a prominent member of the former certainly has noticed.

Webber has been in attendance at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte as an analyst for TNT, and in speaking with Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee, he related that he's not surprised by what his former teammate, Kings general manager Vlade Divac, has been able to accomplish.

"Vlade has believed in these guys, especially Fox and Buddy, telling me a long time ago they were going to change the trajectory of the team,” Webber said. “The great part about it as a Sacramento fan is, I know Vlade, he doesn’t just work for the organization, but he is a fan of the city. He wants it to be great, not only on the court but in the community as well.

"And, yeah, he’s going to (turn) it around. He already has. He said, ‘Give me two years.’ He’s done that. Just wait till we give him a little bit more time."

[RELATED: Webber joins 12 others as Basketball Hall of Fame finalist]

Webber has fond memories of his time in Sacramento, particularly of the fan support during the years of playoff contention.

"During that time, I remember that was the most passionate basketball experience, professionally, that I ever witnessed, from the city shutting down for the playoffs to the first playoff series we had (when) J-Will and myself took pizzas out to the fans who were out there tailgating before the games,” Webber said. “From the fans and how passionate they were, to the cowbells to Sign Lady and just everyone there, from the vendors all the way to the owners, you knew it was a feeling of community. Vlade is trying to recapture that."

Sacramento will have plenty of work to do over the final 25 regular-season games, but there's no denying the new era of Kings basketball has impressed that of the old.

Kings begin search for 2019 NBA Draft steal, work out six prospects

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USATSI

Kings begin search for 2019 NBA Draft steal, work out six prospects

The search for a diamond in the rough has begun in Sacramento. With head coach Luke Walton looking on, the Kings held their first predraft workout Monday.

It won’t be an easy search for Kings general manager Vlade Divac. Sacramento doesn’t have a first round pick in this year’s draft, although the Kings own three second-round selections: Nos. 40, 47 and 60 overall.

NBC Sports California confirmed that Stockton Kings head coach Ty Ellis and player development coach Bobby Jackson helped run the six-man workout. On Monday, ABC 10's Sean Cunningham reported that no new staff members conducted the workout.

Houston guard Armoni Brooks was a late addition to the group Monday, as he most likely tests the draft waters prior returning to college for his senior season. At 6-foot-3, 196 pounds, Brooks improved in each of his first three seasons at the NCAA level. He posted 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and made 39 percent of his 3-point shots this season.

“Everytime you come to one of these workouts, we’re all really good players,” Brooks told reporters at the Kings facility (via ABC 10). “You’ve just got to find a way to impact the game in little ways - defense, rebounding, just doing the little things to separate yourself.”

Icelandic guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson is an intriguing prospect. Standing 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, he stuffed the stat sheet in his junior season at Davidson and posted 16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He had a down shooting year from distance, hitting just 35.3 percent from 3-point range. But he shot 40.6 percent a year prior, so there is room for growth.

Despite growing up overseas, Gudmundsson has watched plenty of NBA games and even knows a little about the Kings.

“This year I feel like it was kind of their rising year,” Gudmundsson told reporters Monday. “I feel like they’re coming up, and I feel like next year is going to be a playoff team and they’ve got a bright future ahead of them.”

Kansas State small forward Xavier Sneed matched up with BYU's Yoeli Childs in the workout. Sneed posted modest numbers as a junior and is undersized for a three. Childs, meanwhile, averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds in his third college season.

“It’s awesome,” Childs told reporters Monday in Sacramento about the pre-draft process. “It’s so much fun. You’re so close to living the dream that you’ve had your whole life. I really try to not take a single moment for granted. I’m really feel just blessed to be here.”

Reggie Perry from Mississippi State and Kevin Samuels out of TCU provided the post play. Perry is the youngest of the lot at just 19 years old. He averaged 9.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his lone NCAA season.

Samuels, 21, was the big body. Measuring in at 6-foot-11, 250 pounds, the Horned Frogs center posted a modest 7.4 points and 6.9 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game this season.

[RELATED: Ex-King Labissiere learning from bench in Blazers' run]

Perry is the only player from the current group who was invited to the NBA Combine in Chicago. None of the six prospects are currently listed on most two-round mock drafts, but plenty can change in the next few weeks.

This is only the beginning for Sacramento. The Kings likely will hold multiple workouts like this over the next month while they build up to the NBA draft June 20 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. 

NBA odds: Kings' 2019-20 title odds increase following 39-43 season

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USATSI

NBA odds: Kings' 2019-20 title odds increase following 39-43 season

For the first time in a long time, the Sacramento Kings are moving in the right direction.

Coming off a 27-win season in 2017-18, the Kings made a push to finish at the .500 mark this past season, but fell short, ending up with a 39-43 record.

The Kings missed the playoffs for a 13th straight season, but considering most projections have them winning 25 games, it was a successful year.

With the emergence of point guard De'Aaron Fox, shooting guard Buddy Hield, forward Marvin Bagley III, and the addition of forward Harrison Barnes, Las Vegas has increased the Kings' chances of winning the NBA title to +7500 during the 2019-20 season.

[RELATED: Labissiere learning on Blazers' bench]

Now, granted, their odds aren't great, but they are better than what they entered the 2018-19 season with, when Caesers had them at +100000, according to Kings.com.

The Kings have high hopes entering next season. They desperately want to end their playoff drought and believe they have the team that can do it.