SACRAMENTO -- Game on. The Sacramento Kings returned to the court for their first preseason game Monday evening at Golden 1 Arena. Gregg Popovich and his perennial playoff San Antonio Spurs walked away wondering whether they just played a basketball or ran a track meet.
With both teams relying heavily on their young players, the Kings came away with the 106-100 victory to start the 2017-18 exhibition season.
1- Joerger is leaning on the vets. The Kings’ starting lineup featured five 30-somethings, including George Hill, Garrett Temple, Vince Carter, Zach Randolph and Kosta Koufos. The young players saw plenty of court time, but Joerger is going to turn to this group for plenty of minutes early in the season as the young players find their NBA sea legs.
2- The second unit is going to push for minutes. After starting the vets, Joerger turned to a second unit of De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. The youth movement put on a show. They made plenty of mistakes, but they played hard and they played fast.
3- Fox hasn’t mastered the jumper, but he’s so fast that it doesn’t matter. Speedster Patty Mills couldn’t stay in front of the rookie and Fox even ran out of his shoe at one point. The rookie posted 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 17 minutes of action. It’s going to be hard to keep him off the court once the regular season begins.
4- So many players and only 48 minutes to play. Joerger sent players in and out of the game as fast as he could possibly substitute and it still felt like everyone needed more time. Frank Mason III dropped in 17 points in 22 minutes. Labissiere added 15 points and four rebounds and Hield went for 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting as Joerger stuck with the young guys in the second half.
5- Baby steps. Rookie Harry Giles has competed in training camp everyday, but Monday night he was listed as “OUT - Bilateral Knee Rehab.” The Kings love the potential of the 19-year-old big, but they aren’t going to rush him into action.
SACRAMENTO -- Sneakers squeaking. The thud of the ball bouncing off the hardwood. The clang of iron and the silky sound of a swish. Basketball is back.
The Kings opened training camp Tuesday morning at the team’s practice facility attached to Golden 1 Center. When media was ushered in, the players streaked up and down the court running an advanced version of the three-man weave.
Sweat poured as they tried to shake off the summer rust. In the middle of it all was head coach Dave Joerger imploring his young group with an already raspy voice.
The Kings are going to push the tempo. If someone isn’t getting the message, they aren’t going to play -- it’s that simple. Here are some of the highlights from the first day of camp.
- The focus in Sacramento is on developing the young players this year. There will be nights when the wheels completely fall off the bus, and other times when the Kings run their opponents off the floor.“The fun is in the journey, and this is a year that there’s a lot of heavy lifting,” Joerger said following Day 1. “There’s a lot of development that needs to occur and there are going to be some pains in it, but the fun part of it is we have good guys who work hard and play hard, and they’re fun to be around.”
- Sprinting up and down the court was no issue for speedster De’Aaron Fox. He was ready for the challenge, although some of his teammates might not have been. “Day 1 is crazy,” Fox said. “A lot of times they try and test you. We ran a lot today. They were just testing a few people and emphasizing that we are going to get up and down the court. We’re going to play fast and guys have to be in shape to do it."
- Fox is trying to make a huge jump forward in his second NBA season. The team is putting the 20-year-old out front and letting him find his way as both a player and as the face of the franchise. “Rookie season is over,” Fox said. “Guys are actually listening and guys are looking to me. So I’ve got to have those answers and I’ve got to be able to help people.”
- Buddy Hield is built for the up-tempo style. He loves to shoot the 3-ball and he’s looking forward to taking another step forward in his progression as a player. “Coach says we’re going to play fast and start running, and I like running, so I’m not going to argue with that,” Hield said following practice. “We’ve just got to play fast, play together and play the right way.”
- Nemanja Bjelica is one of a few new faces on the Kings roster. He came to Sacramento, in part, to play with his close friend and countryman, Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Serbian combo forward will have to fend for himself while Bogdanovic recovers from Monday’s knee surgery, but he likes what he sees so far. “First day is always tough, but we have, like, great chemistry, guys are ready to work,” Bjelica said.
Sacramento is scheduled to practice in the morning and the evenings throughout the week. They’ll open back up to the media for the morning session on Wednesday, where the coaching staff will likely continue to run the young Kings until they can run no more.
SACRAMENTO -- Bigger than basketball. It’s a mantra that has played out many times in Sacramento and the Kings are dusting off the message again for National Voter Registration Day with their “Rally the Vote” push.
The Kings are one of nine professional franchises teaming up for a nonpartisan coalition urging their fans to register to vote before the November primaries.
Joining the Kings in the effort are the Chicago Bulls, Chicago White Sox, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants.
As of 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 87.9 million Americans eligible to vote who are not registered. Through teams mobile apps, websites and social media channels, a platform for fans has been created to register fans to vote.
“If we can make buying a ticket to a sporting event accessible in a few clicks, there is no reason why registering to vote shouldn’t be the same,” Vivek Ranadivé, Owner and Chairman of the Sacramento Kings said via a prepared statement. “Voting is one of the most important things we do as Americans and is central to our democracy, yet tens of millions of people are not registered to vote. Sports teams have a responsibility to enact positive change in their communities, and I’m proud to see so many of us coming together to help fans register to vote so that they can have a voice in elections.”
The group of franchises have partnered with Democracy Works, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that uses technology to make voting easier.
Marvin Bagley III has filmed a PSA for the registration drive which will air in the arena during the Kings’ preseason matchups against Maccabi Haifa on Oct. 8 and the Utah Jazz on Oct. 11 and again during the season opener against the Utah Jazz on Oct. 17.
The deadline to register in the upcoming election in California is Oct. 22. To register to vote through Rally the Vote, visit RallyTheVote.TurboVote.org.