SACRAMENTO -- Make your presence felt. That’s the goal for an NBA hopeful playing in a summer league contest.
With plenty of scouts watching, one player’s play jumped off the court for the Kings in Tuesday night's 89-88 loss to the Miami Heat in the California Classic.
Former BYU center Eric Mika looked like a man hunting for a training-camp invite in Sacramento's second game in as many days. The 6-foot-10 banger took over for an injured Caleb Swanigan and instantly helped the Kings create separation from the Heat.
“With the physical play that they were doing with their bigs, Mika met that challenge I thought, and he delivered some blows back to them, which was nice to see,” Kings summer league coach Jesse Mermuys said.
Mika, 24, spent last season at Medi Bayreuth of Germany's Basketball Bundesliga after playing in Italy the previous year. He posted 20.3 points and 9.2 rebounds in his final NCAA season in 2016-17.
“I don’t know if there is a more physical league [than] Germany as far as Europe goes,” Mika said following the loss. “There’s a lot of big dudes, and you have to hold your own as a four and five.”
Against Miami’s summer squad, Mika bullied his way to 13 points, 14 rebounds and one block. He also picked up eight personal fouls, which is two shy of disqualification during the summer league schedule.
The Kings are deep up front, but the G League team in Stockton could use an enforcer.
That Kyle Guy
The Kings have two second-round draft picks trying to make an impact during the summer schedule. While Justin James had a quiet evening Tuesday, Kyle Guy put on a show in his second California Classic game.
The 21-year-old guard, who was known as a shooter at Virginia, lit up the Heat for 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting, including three makes from long range.
“I think a guy that can shoot. You can go anywhere in the world and you put him in a gym, and he has an advantage,” Mermuys said of Guy. “That skill is at a premium, and he’s a high-level shooter that you have to respect.”
Guy needs to work on staying off his heels on defense, and he could do a better job moving the ball, but there is a lot to like. He also chipped in four rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes of play.
“When the games get tight, he rises,” Mermuys said. “He’s got grit and toughness, and he rises to the competition.”
Sacramento had a shot to win the game late and couldn’t get it done.
The Kings got a late stop and had the ball in point guard Semaj Christon’s hands. Instead of calling a timeout and setting up a play, Mermuys decided to allow the action to continue.
“It was such a tough call because I was planning on taking a timeout, and then I saw Semaj get it, who I want downhill anyways with the defense not set,” Mermuys said. “It’s a tough call, man. Obviously it didn’t work out, I would have taken one. Now I’m beating myself up. That’s the pain of being a head coach.”
No one is going to fault Mermuys decision in a summer league game. With just three days of practice, there is no promise that the Kings would have gotten a better shot than the 35-foot running 3-pointer that Christon ultimately tossed up. Installing game-winning play sets is something teams work on during the second or third week of training camp, not the first week of July.