Kings

Kings player profile: Can Yogi Ferrell crack deep guard rotation?

Kings player profile: Can Yogi Ferrell crack deep guard rotation?

What a difference a year makes. Yogi Ferrell was a late addition to the 2018-19 roster and looked like a perfect fit in the Kings’ new uptempo style. He struggled to beat out Frank Mason for the backup job behind De’Aaron Fox, but eventually found a spot in former coach Dave Joerger’s rotation. That isn’t likely to be the case this year.

The Kings made a move to improve the reserve point guard position in free agency when they added Cory Joseph on a big 3-year deal. Ferrell is now in limbo.

General manager Vlade Divac decided to pick up Ferrell’s second-year option at $3.2 million, but there are no promises he’ll see a lot of court time this season with both Fox and Joseph ready to play major minutes.

Whether he plays or is nothing more than an insurance policy is up to new head coach Luke Walton.

Strengths

Ferrell has dynamic scoring potential off the bench. He’s quick and likes to push the tempo. He’s also a player that brings energy and gets the crowd involved in the game.

He shot a career-best 43.5 percent from the field, although his 36.2 percent from long distance was the worst mark through his first three NBA seasons.

Inside the 3-point line, Ferrell flourished. He shot 58 percent at the rim, 42.1 percent from 3-10 feet, 42.3 percent from 10-16 feet and 47.7 percent from 16 to the 3-point line. Those are all very passable numbers.

In addition to quality marks from inside the arc, Ferrell shot a team-best 89.6 percent from the free-throw line, although he shot just 67 freebies on the season.

While he didn’t rack up the assists, Ferrell still managed a 1.9-to-.6 assist-to-turnover ratio and his assist percentage of 17 percent was fourth-best on the team.

Weaknesses

Ferrell could improve on his 3-point shooting, but he has a proven track record of being a solid perimeter marksman. He had a slight dip in numbers, but he also struggled to get consistent playing time.

For a reserve point guard, the 1.9 assists in 15 minutes per game is low. He didn’t have the ball in his hands on every possession -- especially when he played alongside Bogdan Bogdanovic -- but the ball got sticky at times.

Ferrell can be a pesky defender, but he lacks elite size. He posted .6 steals per game, which equates to 1.2 per 36 minutes. That number works, but he’s susceptible to post-ups and bigger guards shooting over the top of him.

Path to Improvement

Despite his limited role last season, Ferrell put up efficient scoring numbers from almost every spot on the floor. The one area he could improve at was from long range, but even his dip in production there was likely due to inconsistent playing time.
 
When he gets a chance, the Kings need him to attack on offense and get the crowd involved. He’ll also need to quickly adjust to the team’s new switching defense, which could further complicate his ability to stay on the court.

He’s lost in a numbers game. Fox is going to play major minutes as the starter and Joseph is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. That means that Ferrell needs to stay ready and take advantage of every opportunity.

Projection

This is a tough one. Ferrell became a fan favorite in his first season in Sacramento. He has a penchant for scoring in bunches and there were multiple occasions when he helped make games interesting.

While he carved out a niche as an energizer off the bench, Ferrell is likely on the outside looking in when the season begins. Fox is going to play major minutes and the team spent $37 million on Cory Joseph to back him up.

[RELATED: Kings player profile: How does guard Cory Joseph fit into rotation?]

Ferrell is more of a combo guard than a true point, but the Kings are deep at the two as well. Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic are already in a fight for minutes that will spill into the small forward position.

The Kings are deep and at this point, Ferrell is a fifth guard with major minute eaters in front of him. Barring a major injury or a midseason trade, there is a good chance he is going to struggle to get on the court.

Luka Doncic's triple-double makes NBA history in Mavs' win over Bucks

Luka Doncic's triple-double makes NBA history in Mavs' win over Bucks

Another game, another insane, eye-popping stat line from Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic.

The 21-year-old Serbian star put on a show Saturday night in the Mavericks' 136-132 overtime win over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in Orlando, Florida.

Doncic finished with a staggering 36 points, 19 assists and 14 rebounds. It was his 17th triple-double of the 2019-20 NBA season, and in the process, Doncic made history.

Just look at a few of the shots and passes Doncic made late in the Mavs' win over the Bucks. It looks like a varsity player going up against the JV team.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Two years into Doncic's NBA career, it's safe to say the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks are kicking themselves for passing on the superstar. In the case of the Hawks, they actually drafted Doncic at No. 3 overall, but traded him to the Mavericks for Trae Young and a 2019 first-round draft pick, which they used on Cam Reddish.

The Suns drafted center DeAndre Ayton No. 1 overall, while the Kings infamously decided to take forward Marvin Bagley over Doncic at No. 2.

In hindsight, those three decisions are turning out to be franchise-altering. Ayton is averaging 17.2 points and 10.7 rebounds through two seasons, while Bagley has dealt with injuries and has played in 75 games his first two seasons. He's averaging 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Neither has come close to making the type of impact Doncic has made.

[RELATED: Barnes takes blame for Kings' poor performance]

Young is an NBA All-Star and has the potential to be really good, but Doncic looks like he's on a different level right now. Even Young took notice of what Doncic did Saturday night.

Doncic isn't an MVP finalist this year, but it's only a matter of time before he's holding that trophy. He's getting better each year, and he's going to make the teams that passed on him pay for the next two decades.

Damian Lillard, Paul George have beef after late missed free throws

Damian Lillard, Paul George have beef after late missed free throws

Oakland native Damian Lillard isn’t afraid to speak his mind, especially when criticism is thrown his way.

The normally clutch Lillard, who has ended multiple NBA playoff series with a game-winning shot, missed two key free throws late in the Portland Trail Blazers’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

Patrick Beverly, who himself is famous for mixing it up with opposing point guards, had some words for Lillard from the sideline.

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Beverly was a member of the Houston Rockets team Lillard sent home in the first round of 2014 NBA Playoffs, and Clippers star Paul George was the man contesting Lillard on his buzzer-beater that eliminated George and the Oklahoma City Thunder from the postseason last spring. Lillard brought both of them up during his postgame interview with TNT’s Taylor Rooks, and George clapped back in the comment section.

George and the Clippers have a playoff spot clinched and currently would be the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, while Lillard’s Trail Blazers are 1.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot.

As with many NBA beefs in recent years, the discourse continued in the comment section.

George also posted a message on his Instagram story addressing the back-and-forth.

[RELATED: Lillard wanted name of Oakland's Oscar Grant on jersey]

George, a six-time All-Star, suffered a gruesome compound fracture in his right leg during a 2014 Team USA scrimmage in preparation for the FIBA World Cup, causing him to miss most of the 2014-15 regular season.

Lillard’s rare failure in the clutch benefited the Kings, as a win by the Trail Blazers would have eliminated Sacramento from postseason contention. The Kings currently are two full games behind Portland for the ninth spot in the West, with three games remaining before the playoff field is solidified.

Hopefully for NBA fans everywhere (except in Sacramento) Lillard and the Trail Blazers find a way into the postseason so we can get another chance to see him go up against Beverly, George and the Clippers.