Kings

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

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

The 2019-20 Sacramento Kings are deep. They have young players at every position, and in most cases, a veteran waiting in the wings to help out.

Cory Joseph was one of the most crucial additions the Kings made in the offseason. General manager Vlade Divac invested heavily in the reserve guard, handing him a three-year, $37 million contract to back up De’Aaron Fox.

Winning teams need role players that understand what their job is when they step on the floor. Joseph has made a career out of solidifying the second unit of multiple teams and at 28 years old, he has plenty of basketball in front of him.

Strengths

Last season, the Kings finished 20th in the league in defensive rating at 111.3 and 26th in points allowed per game at 115.3. To fix this issue, Divac went out and added veteran pieces to try and plug the holes.

Joseph is one of the better perimeter defending guards in the league. The Pacers posted a defensive rating of 110.1 with Joseph off the court and that number improved to 104.7 when he was playing.

In addition to his defensive numbers, Joseph finished last season with a 3.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s a solid distributor that isn’t flashy and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

With Sacramento, Joseph will be asked to be a secondary ball-handler in the second unit alongside Bogdan Bogdanovic. He’ll be allowed to focus on the defensive end, where he flourishes.

Like Fox, Joseph finishes well at the rim, hitting 67.8 percent in the circle. His second strongest spot on the floor is from 10-16 feet where he knocks down 43.8 percent.

Joseph also is considered a high character locker room guy that grew up in the Spurs system. He understood what he was signing up for when he took the three-year deal.

Weaknesses

Joseph is a standout defender and a strong game manager, but his offensive game leaves something to be desired.

Of his 548 shot attempts during the regular season, 457 were jump shots. Despite being in the league eight seasons, his shot chart is all over the map.

He attempted 87 shots at the rim, 92 from 3-10 feet, 96 from 10-16 feet, 117 from 16 feet to the 3-point line and 180 3-pointers.

While he was effective at the rim, he didn’t set the world on fire from any other particular spot on the floor. He shot just 41.2 percent overall on the season and his 6.5 points per game were his lowest in the last five years.

After back-to-back seasons of shooting 35.6 and 35.3 percent from behind the arc, Joseph’s numbers dropped to 32.2 percent last season. In the Kings’ system, he should see an uptick in opportunities from 3-point range and the team needs him to take advantage.

In addition to the drop in 3-pointer percentage, Joseph saw a massive decrease in free-throw attempts and he hit less than 70 percent from the line. If he attacks the rim with more frequency, he should improve from his 43 total free-throw attempts last season.

Path to Improvement

Pace is a wonderful thing. Indiana played at the 24th slowest pace in the league last season, which was by design. Joseph will have all kinds of opportunities this season playing uptempo style. That should lead to better scoring and assist numbers, even with reduced minutes.

His main focus will be on stopping the elite scoring guards in the Western Conference, but he also could make strides on the offensive end by finding clear spots on the floor that play to his strength.

Joseph won’t be asked to carry a huge scoring load playing alongside Bogdanovic, but if he can hit open 3-pointers and stretch the floor, he’ll earn plenty of minutes. He also should work to get to the rim and reduce mid-range jumpers, which were a staple of his game last season with the Pacers.

[RELATED: How Fox can take another leap in third year with Kings]

Projection

Joseph isn’t going to play the 25.2 minutes per game that he saw last year in Indiana, but the Kings paid him handsomely to fit a role. That role is to go out and slow down elite offensive perimeter players that can be found all around the Western Conference.

Don’t expect a huge dip in numbers from the veteran point guard, if any, despite a potential reduction in minutes. The Kings’ frenetic pace allows everyone an equal opportunity to score and assists are easy to come by as well.

Fox is going to play the majority of the minutes at the lead guard spot, but that still leaves 14-18 minutes per game for Joseph to suit up. The two also can play alongside each other for stretches and potentially get his minutes closer to the 20 per game mark.

It’s a long 82 game schedule and there is going to be an opportunity for Joseph to make an impact for the Kings. Divac provided the depth necessary to compete, now head coach Luke Walton has to figure out how to fit all the pieces in.

Kings' Harry Giles earns first double-double in road win vs. Clippers

Kings' Harry Giles earns first double-double in road win vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- Don’t look now, but the Kings are on a roll.

With a 112-103 victory over the Clippers on Saturday, Sacramento now has won two in a row and eight of its last 12 games. There are plenty of reasons for the push, but flying under the radar is the improvement of second-year big man Harry Giles.

“There’s a lot of growth happening,” Kings coach Luke Walton told NBC Sports California after the win. “One, I think his conditioning and his body looks, and I’m assuming, feels pretty good right now.”

Giles went toe-to-toe with a huge Clippers frontline and managed to post his first career double-double. He finished the game with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and chipped in 12 rebounds, which matched his career high.

“It feels good, man,” Giles said. “I feel like I already had one, I should have had one. I’m glad I can finally put one in the books.”

On Jan. 30, Giles struggled to stay on the floor against the Clippers, picking up two quick fouls against Montrezl Harrell and then sitting for all but three minutes of the game while the Kings’ 3-point shooters rained down on Los Angeles.

“You have to give him a lot of credit for continuing to improve and do what we as a staff are asking him to do,” Walton added.

With very little support behind him because of njury, Giles came into Saturday’s game knowing that he had to stay on the floor. The only hope of doing that was to play defense without fouling.

[RELATED: Marvin Bagley visits foot specialist, out at least three more weeks]

“With time and reps, I’m just going to get better,” Giles said. “The fouls -- it varies. It’s tough. It depends on how you play and how the refs let you play. I’m going to keep getting better at that and just keep playing hard.”

In a career-high 32 minutes of action, Giles picked up just three fouls. He set good screens, moved his feet on defense and limited his mistakes overall. More importantly, he played valuable fourth-quarter minutes in a huge team victory.

Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley continue to miss time because of injury, and the Kings are extremely thin upfront. Giles has started six of the last eight games, and he’s starting to build momentum.

“I’m just trying to build on the opportunity and keep winning,” Giles said.

With just over a minute left and the game still undecided, Giles got an opportunity to shine off the lob.

[RELATED: Jabari Parker ready for Kings debut, Alex Len getting closer]

The Kings decided not to pick up Giles’ fourth-year option back in October, but they’ve kept the door open for a possible return for the 21-year-old big next season. He has another 26 games to show what he can do, and he’s auditioning for all 30 teams at this point.

Giles wasn’t the only center to play minutes for the Kings. 7-footer Alex Len made his Sacramento debut and played very well for a player who has missed 11 straight games with a hip pointer.

“I wasn’t planning on playing him that much, I wanted to just get him out there a little bit,” Walton said. “I was going to come in with Jabari [Parker], but he looked good. He was moving well. He was clogging up the paint. He was putting out fires for us. So I pushed it a little more than I wanted to with his minutes, but he said he felt good, and it was nice to have a real big 7-foot body out there to help control the paint.”

Len, who came over from the Atlanta Hawks at the NBA trade deadline, finished with three points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He was active and made a nice impact on the game in his limited time on the court.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 112-103 upset win over Clippers

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 112-103 upset win over Clippers

BOX SCORE 

LOS ANGELES -- After leading the Los Angeles Clippers for most of the game, the Kings took a right hook to the chin in the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. 

The Kings looked stunned, but they didn’t fall. 

The Clippers' trio of Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell put on a show, but in another shocker in LA, the Kings took down the 37-19 Clippers by a final of 112-103.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings picked up their second win over the Clippers at Staples Center this season, and improved to 23-33 on the season.

More Baze

Kent Bazemore has gone from a pleasant surprise to something more for the Kings. The veteran forward is active defensively, and much better than expected as an offensive weapon.

After posting 15 points, followed by 18 in the team’s previous two games, Bazemore came out aggressive again on Saturday. He scored 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the first half and continued to put pressure after the intermission. 

The 30-year-old wing is the shot in the arm the Kings needed. He finished the game with 23 points, six rebounds and four steals in 29 minutes. 

Bazemore is an unrestricted free agent after the season, and quickly is turning into a priority for the Kings. 

Backcourt

De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic came to play. 

Fox struggled with his shot coming out of the gate, but he was aggressive attacking the rim and eventually found a rhythm. He finished with 20 points, eight assists and a steal.

Like Fox, Bogdanovic got off to a slow start, but he hit the Clippers hard in the third quarter to finish with 20 points on 4-of-10 from distance. 

Sacramento’s backcourt outscored the Clippers 40-12.

Another game, another new face

Jabari Parker wasn’t the only player the Kings picked up from the Atlanta Hawks in the Dewayne Dedmon trade. 7-footer Alex Len made his Kings debut against the Clippers and instantly made an impact.

The No. 5 overall pick from the 2013 NBA Draft has struggled to find his place in the league, but against LA, he was active on both ends of the floor and battled star sixth man, Montrezl Harrell.

[RELATED: Bagley sees foot specialist, out at least three more weeks]

Len finished with three points on 1-for-3 shooting, but he grabbed eight rebounds in 16 minutes.

With Richaun Holmes out of action, the Kings need minutes from Len. He earned a longer look next time out, but he’ll have to compete for time with Harry Giles, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for his first career double-double.