Harry Giles making impact on Kings, and coach Dave Joerger is thrilled


Harry Giles making impact on Kings, and coach Dave Joerger is thrilled

SACRAMENTO -- Bigs, beware. Harry Giles III is coming for your minutes.

The 20-year-old rookie is starting to make an impact on a nightly basis, which was evident Thursday night in his 23-minute stint in the Kings' 112-102 win over the Detroit Pistons.

“I feel like I’m just at the point where I can just be free and have some fun out there and compete at a level I feel like I’m comfortable [with] out there,” Giles said. “I’m in it now, so I’m playing and just having fun and competing and doing what I do.”

Kings coach Dave Joerger pulled Giles over after the game, and had a few words with his young center.

“I grabbed him after the game and told him, ‘I feel like you're getting better and the work that you put in, you’re getting better,’ ” Joerger said.

It was a big moment for Giles. After being in and out of Sacramento's rotation through the first half of the season, he seems to be building momentum, and his coach is rewarding him for his efforts.

“He embraced me, he encouraged me, it felt amazing,” Giles said of the encounter with Joerger. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Against the Pistons, Giles went toe-to-toe with All-Star center Andre Drummond, who has a huge weight advantage over the Kings reserve. Giving up a minimum of 30 pounds to the 7-footer, Giles did his work early and kept his body on Drummond as much as he could.

“Everybody outweighs me at my position, so it’s great,” Giles said. “It’s all about that heart anyway.”

Giles stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting and 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. He added four rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals to help the Kings improve to 21-21 on the season.

“He’s not afraid to make mistakes, and I think he understands that, ultimately, you have to make mistakes to learn and you only get that by playing,” Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein said.

The mistakes Cauley-Stein mentioned came in the form of turnovers. Giles gave away the ball a team-high five times in this game.

“He’s able to do everything,” Kings guard De'Aaron Fox said. “He’s just working on his turnovers. A couple of turnovers he had can be prevented, but it’s just because he’s trying to make a play. He’s getting a lot more comfortable on the floor.”

The comfort level might be everything for the former top prospect. After sitting out most of his senior year in high school, playing 300 total minutes at Duke and then watching from the sideline last season with the Kings, Giles needs time on the court to develop a rhythm. That’s not an easy task for Joerger when his team is playing better than expected. As the season became equal parts winning and development, Giles often has had to watch from the bench.

[RELATED: Would Enes Kanter be a fit in Sacramento?]

Sacramento’s front office even has sent the talented big to the G League on multiple occasions in an attempt to give him court time. Somewhere along the way, the game started clicking for Giles.

“I thought he did some good things around the rim,” Joerger said. “I thought he contested some shots and he caught some passes that might have ended up in the second row; he has some great hands.”

Like the rest of the Kings' young core, Giles is a work in progress. He has incredible potential, and the more he plays, the better he gets. If he continues on this pace, he’ll be in line for a major role in the rotation sooner rather than later.

Source: Kings' De'Aaron Fox leaves Team USA to focus on making playoffs

Source: Kings' De'Aaron Fox leaves Team USA to focus on making playoffs

Well, so much for that.

Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox had been a standout this summer with Team USA, drawing rave reviews from just about everyone associated with the program, including head coach Gregg Popovich.

Despite only playing six minutes in Friday's exhibition win over Spain, Popovich informed the media that all 14 finalists, including Fox and Harrison Barnes, would be heading with the team to Australia as they continue their prep.

But Fox apparently had other ideas, as the Kentucky product has withdrawn from Team USA, a source confirmed to NBC Sports California's James Ham.

Yahoo! Sports' Chris Haynes was the first to report the news, noting Fox is choosing to focus on getting the Kings back to the playoffs. 

That is a bit of a shocker.

Last season, the Kings took a step in the right direction when Fox, Barnes, Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield led them to a 39-43 record and kept them in the playoff hunt for much of the year.

But the Western Conference got a lot tougher over the offseason. With Anthony Davis now a Laker, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joining the Clippers, Mike Conley being acquired by the Jazz and the Rockets swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, the West will be the ultimate gauntlet this year.

And let's not forget about the Warriors, who despite the loss of Kevin Durant, still will be a threat.

[RELATED: Fox making most of Team USA time with Popovich]

A number of Western Conference stars elected not to participate in Team USA this summer, hoping instead to put all their focus on a title run next season in the wide-open NBA.

After a few weeks with the Red, White, and Blue, Fox apparently has chosen to put all his time and energy into helping the Kings snap their playoff drought.

Kings' De'Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes will go to Australia with Team USA


Kings' De'Aaron Fox, Harrison Barnes will go to Australia with Team USA

ANAHEIM -- In their first test against international competition, Team USA looked solid. Playing against Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol and an experienced team from Spain, head coach Gregg Popovich’s squad led for most of the night and managed a 90-81 win to open their schedule of friendlies. 

Donovan Mitchell and Khris Middleton were the standouts for Team USA. Mitchell finished with 13 points and chipped in four rebounds, while Middleton added 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes started at the power forward spot for Team USA and finished with two points and three rebounds in 14 minutes. Despite the modest numbers, Barnes played solid defense and made smart decisions when he got an opportunity.

De’Aaron Fox put together a strong camp, but he played just six minutes in the win for the US. He sat in the second half as Popovich gave Spurs guard Derrick White a long look. 

In his limited minutes, Fox scored two points dished out an assist. Of the 13 players that stepped on the court for the national team, Fox’s six minutes were the lowest total. 

While he certainly would have like to play more, the 21-year-old point guard wasn’t complaining following the game. He enjoyed the opportunity to throw on a Team USA jersey and compete.

“It was definitely great to play against a different country, it was my first time doing it and I definitely had a blast,” Fox told NBC Sports California. 

In the moments following then win, Fox confirmed that he had yet to find out whether he was on his way to Australia Saturday with the team or not. A few minutes later coach Popovich confirmed that all 14 of the remaining finalists are heading out on the trip.

“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Popovich said.

[RELATED: Fox, Barnes building bond with Team USA]

The next few weeks are going to be a whirlwind for the team. They’ll play two friendlies in Melbourne and then one in Sydney in preparation for their Sept. 1 opener against the Czech Republic in Shanghai, China. 

Somewhere between now and the start of the FIBA World Cup, they’ll have to pair down the roster to 12 that will suit up.