Kings

Healthy Iman Shumpert ready to help Kings: 'I am very happy to be here!'

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USATSI

Healthy Iman Shumpert ready to help Kings: 'I am very happy to be here!'

SACRAMENTO -- Happy birthday! That is how Iman Shumpert ended his media session on Tuesday afternoon. It’s also how he ended all of his interviews during media day. 

Shumpert is eccentric. He loves to sing, be the center of attention and he has a million dollar smile. He also just got cleared to return to practice fully after struggling with leg and foot injuries over the last year.

“They’ve been running a lot of tests on me to make sure everything is completely balanced and I tested out on everything right,” the 28-year-old wing said following practice. “Today was my first day getting a full bit of action out here on the court and I feel really good.”

No one knows exactly what the Kings’ plan is for Shumpert this season. He was acquired at the deadline in February as part of the George Hill deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his recovery from early season knee surgery, he developed a case of plantar fasciitis and never suited up for Sacramento.

In total, Shumpert played just 14 games last season. If he’s healthy, he could possibly give coach Dave Joerger another option at the small forward position, but health has been an issue for the former Georgia Tech star throughout his seven years in the league.

Shumpert has a lot to play for. He’s in the final year of a 4-year, $40 million deal he signed with Cleveland back in 2015. He’ll make $11 million this season with the Kings, whether he steps on the floor or not. 

While he hasn’t made an appearance yet with Sacramento, he’s played plenty of pickup games over the summer with his teammates. Shumpert’s been around the group and he’s enjoyed the vibe of his young teammates.

“Playing with these guys, they’re young, everything is free flowing, they take chances ‘cus they look to make up for it athletically,” Shumpert said. “That’s the style of basketball that I came from and I’ve missed for a while.”

Shumpert is ready to help shoulder some of the leadership role with the team this season. He’s excited to work with a team that is trying to build something, even if most of the players are too young to understand his movie references.

“For them, they don’t understand it yet and they’re not supposed to, they’re supposed to live in the moment,” Shumpert said. “I think it’s kind of funny, I quoted Coming to America the other day they all looked at me like I was crazy. That was my first confirmation of being old.”

If all goes well, Shumpert could possibly make his preseason debut later this week when the Kings take on the Utah Jazz on Thursday and the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday. He brings a defensive mentality, a physicality and a huge personality to the table. 

On his way out the door, Shumpert shared his movie quote from Coming to America, giving his best impersonation of Eddie Murphy’s character, Prince Akeem Joffer, the crown prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda. 

“I am very happy to be here!”

Buddy Hield, shooting at a nearby court, shook his head, confirming that he had no idea what Shumpert was referring to. If nothing else, the veteran has a lot of work in front of him on educating the young Kings on the finer nuances of 1980s comedies.

Kings Under Review: Yogi Ferrell takes advantage coming off bench

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USATI

Kings Under Review: Yogi Ferrell takes advantage coming off bench

If you can't stop them, outscore them. It's a mantra the Sacramento Kings live by on most nights and against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the policy was in full effect.

In an epic battle of offensive production, the Kings outscored the T-Wolves 141-130 Wednesday night to pick up their second straight victory and their fifth win in the last six opportunities. They shot the ball incredibly well, got an unexpected boost off the bench and gave their fan base another incredible evening of entertainment. 

[RELATED: Takeaways from Kings record night]

Sacramento currently stands at 15-12 on the season with the win. Here are a few positives and negatives from the game:

POSITIVE

Yogi Earns a Chance

Yogi Ferrell has sat quietly on the sidelines waiting for his opportunity. Out of the rotation due to a glut in the backcourt, the 25-year-old was told before the game he would play. When he stepped on the floor in the first quarter, he gave the Kings everything they needed and more.

Throughout the season, Sacramento has struggled to keep up their frenetic pace when starting point guard De'Aaron Fox steps off the court. Ferrell pushed the tempo and made a huge impact on the game as both a scorer and a distributor.

After playing a total of 81 minutes over the Kings' previous 20 games, the fourth-year guard tallied 17 points on 4-of-4 shooting from long range and added six assists in 16 minutes with the second unit. According to coach Dave Joerger, the plan is to give Ferrell a good 10 game look and then reevaluate the position.

POSITIVE

Make it Rain

After Wednesday evening's performance, the Kings now lead the league in 3-point field goal percentage as a team at 39.4 percent. They've stayed near the top all season long, but their performance against the Timberwolves was one for the record books.

Sacramento hit 19-of-38 from deep, setting a new franchise record for most makes in a game. Seven different players knocked down a triple, including five makes from Buddy Hield and four each from Ferrell and Nemanja Bjelica.

The Kings played at an incredible pace. They moved the ball, finishing the night with 34 assists and just 11 turnovers. They found the open man and they hit shots, setting a new season high in field goal percentage at 58.1 percent.

NEGATIVE/POSITIVE

Freebies

Willie Caulie-Stein is struggling at the line and the Timberwolves took advantage of that fact. The Kings' starting center is a career 61.7 percent shooter from the line, but his percentage is down to 47.1 percent this season.

Minnesota honed in on the 7-footer's issue and began to institute a Hack-a-Willie strategy. They sent Cauley-Stein to the line nine times in the fourth quarter and initially, he didn't respond well.

Cauley-Stein bricked the first four attempts and appeared rattled by the strategy, but Joerger stuck with the big man. He responded by hitting four of his final five attempts, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.

With the pace that the Kings play at, this is a solid strategy to employ until Cauley-Stein proves he can hit his free throws. Joerger has other options he can use at the five in crunch time if Cauley-Stein continues to miss the freebies.

POSITIVE

Bjelica for the Win

Nemanja Bjelica didn't like his role in his three seasons with the Timberwolves. The former EuroLeague MVP felt underutilized in Minnesota's system and on Wednesday evening, he showed his former team what he's capable of.

The 30-year-old forward dropped in a team-high 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting and hit 4-of-9 from behind the arc in the win for Sacramento. In addition, Bjelica grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked a pair of shots. 

Kings fans have become accustomed to Bjelica's stat-stuffing ways. He's an extremely high basketball IQ player that has made an immediate impact with the Kings.

Kings set new record for 3-point makes in wild win over Timberwolves

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USATI

Kings set new record for 3-point makes in wild win over Timberwolves

SACRAMENTO -- Let it fly. The Sacramento Kings run, they pass and on Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center, they shot the lights out.

In a wild up and down game, the Kings hit a franchise record 19 3-pointers on 38 attempts in the team’s 141-130 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The leader in the clubhouse was Buddy Hield, who scored 20 points on 5-of-8 from long range. Nemanja Bjelica hit 4-of-9 from deep on his way to a team-high 25 points and Yogi Ferrell had a perfect 4-for-4 showing from 3-point range in 16 minutes of action.

Four other Kings players knocked triples to help the team improve to 15-12 on the season.

After Wednesday’s performance, Sacramento is the best 3-point shooting teams in the league. They hit 39.4 percent from deep, but their 28.5 attempts per game is just 25th best in the NBA.

“We play an uptempo, high-octane, fun brand of basketball,” De’Aaron Fox said. “We share the ball.”

Sacramento finished the night with 34 assists and just 11 turnovers. They moved the ball all over the court and found the open man. The Kings also set a new season-high for points in a half with 78, although they allowed Minnesota to score 80 after the intermission.

The Kings will likely need a similar offensive production on Friday evening when they host the Golden State Warriors at Golden 1 Center. If it becomes a track meet, the team’s record books could be rewritten again.