Kings

Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away

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USATSI

Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away

SACRAMENTO - All hands on deck. The Sacramento Kings open the 2017-18 schedule Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at Golden 1 Center and it looks like they might do so with a full arsenal of players at their disposal.

Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to practice on Sunday and then participated in the team’s annual Fanfest. If his dance moves are any indication, the 19-year-old’s back is feeling just fine.

Veteran George Hill tweaked his groin Friday against the Golden State Warriors, leaving his availability for opening night in question. Hill, 31, who has a history of groin injuries, was on the court Monday practicing and said he is ready to play.

“Everything is feeling good right now,” Hill said Monday following practice.

The only player who didn’t practice on Monday is rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic, who sprained his right ankle against the Warriors. According to head coach Dave Joerger,  the team is hopeful that the Serbian sharpshooter will return in time for Game 1.

“We’re still shooting for Wednesday for both of them,” Joerger said of Hill and Bogdanovic.

New look Rockets

The Rockets went 55-27 last season under head coach Mike D’Antoni, but that didn’t stop them from going all in during the offseason. With MVP runner-up James Harden already manning the backcourt, Houston added nine-time All-Star Chris Paul as their new starting point guard.

“Leadership, he’s a floor general,” Hill said about Paul. “Anywhere he goes, he’ll make a team better. We know they were already a good team without him, coming in with him is going to be a bigger task.”

It’s a new look roster and the expectations are huge for the Rockets. Houston averaged 115.3 points per game last season and led the league in both 3-point attempts and makes. This season, they also added two strong perimeter defenders in P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

It’s a huge test coming out of the gate for Sacramento. Following the contest against the Rockets, the Kings hit the road for three straight before returning to Golden 1 next Thursday to face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans.


Camp notes

With the season just around the corner, the Sacramento Kings made their final roster cuts on Sunday afternoon. David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn were waived, leaving the Kings with 15 rostered players and two two-way players in Jack Cooley and JaKarr Sampson.

Stockton, Jones and Hearn are all expected to join the Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s G-League.

NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Luka Doncic

NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Luka Doncic

Draft Profile: Luka Doncic

Shooting Guard/Small Forward - Spain

Age: 19 Height: 6-foot-8 Weight: 230

Stats: 14.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.1 steals, .4 blocks, 30.9% 3-point

Player Comparison: Toni Kukoc, Brandon Roy, Manu Ginobili

Strengths

A multi positional player with a basketball IQ off the charts, Doncic is the most accomplished player to come from the European game, perhaps ever. He’s a wizard in the pick-and-roll and he can score at all three levels. Doncic is also a proven winner that makes his teammates better and he has the hardware to prove it.   

Weaknesses

There is some concern that Doncic lacks the athleticism and lateral quickness to dominate in the NBA like he did in Europe. While he can play the point guard, shooting guard and small forward position on the offensive end, he’s more of a three on defense at the NBA level. He masks any physical liabilities with incredible instincts, but that might not fly every night at the NBA level.

Fit

With Sacramento, Doncic would jump in and start at the small forward position on day 1 alongside the backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic. He would add a scoring threat and another ball handler to the Kings’ first unit.

Chance of going No. 2

Doncic is on a short list of players the Kings are considering at No. 2. They have scouted him all season in Europe and gone overseas to visit the Slovenian prospect twice in the last month leading up to the draft.

NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Michael Porter Jr.

NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Michael Porter Jr.

Michael Porter Jr. - Small Forward - Missouri - Freshman

Age: 19 Height: 6-foot-10.75 Weight: 211

Stats: 10.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, .3 assists, 1.0 steals, .3 blocks, 30.0% 3-point

Player Comparison: Danilo Gallinari, Tracy McGrady

Strengths

Porter is an incredibly gifted scorer that projects as a legitimate number one option at the NBA level. His handles need some work, but he can take opponents off the dribble, rise above defenders in the mid-range and shoot from deep. He’s also a solid rebounder for his position and has the size and athleticism to be an adequate defender.

Weaknesses

Porter underwent back surgery after just two minutes of play during his freshman year at Missouri. He returned late in the season, but was limited to just 53 minutes of play for the Tigers. His shot selection will need work and he weighed in at just 211 pounds at the combine. He’ll need to get stronger and work the kinks out with his back issues if he hopes to fulfill his enormous potential.

Fit

If it wasn’t for the back issues, Porter would be the perfect addition for the Kings. He could start at the small forward position and slide over and player stretch four for stints. Sacramento could use a pure scorer like Porter, but health is a big concern.

Chance of going No. 2

Sacramento would love to take the gamble on Porter, but they’re going to need a clean bill of health. They attended his evaluation day last Friday, which reportedly went well. But with other options on the table, they are going to need assurances that the herniated discs issue was a one time thing.