Kings

Kings season in review: Harry Giles makes impact after slow start as rookie

Kings season in review: Harry Giles makes impact after slow start as rookie

Talent and charisma ooze out of rookie Harry Giles. After sitting out all but 300 minutes over the previous three years, the 21-year-old big finally made his debut this season for the Sacramento Kings.

The early reviews weren’t great. Giles struggled to settle in during the first few months of the season and it was hard for coach Dave Joerger and his staff to keep him on the floor. He picked up fouls at an alarming rate, turned the ball over and forced shots on the offensive end.

After two trips to the G League, Giles finally found his sea legs and showed flashes of what makes him such an intriguing prospect.

The up and down season make a deep dive into the statistic difficult, but there is still plenty to glean from Giles’ 58-game rookie campaign.

Offense

Stats: 7.0 points, 1.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds, .5 steals, 50.3% FG, 14.1 min

Is it too kind to just throw away the first three months of the season when considering Giles’ initial season in the league? It’s really the only option we have when breaking down an 820-minute sample size.

Once Joerger turned to Giles off the bench for consistent playing time, he found a capable passer and offensive cog. Giles posted the fourth-highest usage rate on the team, behind De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley. Of the regulars, only Fox, Yogi Ferrell and Bogdan Bogdanovic posted a higher assist rate than the rookie big.

In the 14 games Giles suited up for following the All-Star break, he posted 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 18.1 minutes per game. He averaged a plus 7.7 points per game in the plus/minus category over that stretch.

Giles has an assortment of offensive moves. He hit 39.3 percent on jumpers from 10-16 feet. When his jumper started falling and the defense moved closer, he was able to show flashes off the dribble. And when the Kings needed a scorer in the block, the former high school star stepped forward, hitting 68.6 percent at the rim.

When Marvin Bagley missed time due to injury, Giles took over for stretches during games. He has the potential to become a solid two-way player and a his above average passing skills for a big man open up plenty of new play options in the Kings’ offensive scheme.

Defense

Tough and physical, Giles has the potential to develop into an elite defender. He brings an attitude to the floor, which on occasion gets him in trouble, but it’s easier to adjust a flame than it is to light one.

There were times where Giles was pushed around in the block by bigger players, but he has a frame that can take plenty of additional muscle. There were also games where Giles lacked explosiveness, but again, he barely stepped on a court for three years.

Like fellow rookie Bagley, Giles struggled with schemes, but he made adjustments as he became familiar with the NBA game. He allowed a plus 0.2 percent field goal against overall, but a negative 0.4 inside of six feet, a negative 0.6 inside of 10 feet and a negative 0.6 greater than 15 feet.

As the season pushed on, Giles improved dramatically. He stopped picking up cheap fouls and he improved as a team defender. He even posted a solid plus 0.2 percent against on 3-point shooters and showed an ability to stay in front of multiple types of player.

Per 36 minutes, Giles averaged 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He needs to improve on the defensive glass, but as he becomes stronger and more comfortable at the NBA level, there is potential for massive improvement.

A focal leader on the floor, Giles has the potential to develop into a defensive anchor for Sacramento.

Overall

A late season thigh bruise cost Giles time late in the season, but all things considered, it was an impressive start by the former Duke Blue Devil.

Whether the Kings believe he is a long-term starter or a rotational player off Luke Walton’s bench is still unknown. The team’s approach to free agency will likely tell a lot about Giles’ future in Sacramento.

[RELATED: Giles thrilled he survived rookie season without setbacks]

It’s clear Giles needs to get stronger if he is going to play the bulk of his minutes at the five. He has good size and great awareness, but he missed a ton of development time as a young player and patience is needed.

Off the court, the 6-foot-10 big already has plenty of fans within the walls of Golden 1 Center. He brings a charisma and confidence that you don’t often find in a player this age. If he can stay healthy, Giles looks like a long-term contributor in Sacramento.

De'Aaron Fox finishes third in NBA's Most Improved Player Award voting

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USATSI

De'Aaron Fox finishes third in NBA's Most Improved Player Award voting

After a breakout second season with the Sacramento Kings, De’Aaron Fox finished in third place in his bid for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award Monday evening as part of the league’s postseason award show.

The Kings' starting point guard was one of three finalists for the award, but Toronto's Pascal Siakam took home the trophy after posting a big season for the Raptors. Nets' All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell finished second in voting.

Fox, 21, turned heads not just with his numbers, but with his ability to win with the Kings. Sacramento showed a 10-game improvement over the previous season and picked up their most victories since the 2005-06 season. It wasn't enough for Fox to take home the trophy.

The Kings missed the playoffs for a thirteenth consecutive season, but they are a team on the rise and Fox is the centerpiece of their rebuild.

After posting 11.6 points, 4.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in his rookie campaign, Fox improved to 17.3 points, 7.9 assists and 3.8 rebounds in his sophomore season.

Selected with the No. 5 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Fox improved in almost every facet of the game, including his 3-point shooting. He jumped from 30.7 percent in Year 1 to 37.1 percent in Year 2.

[RELATED: Examining Kings' roster before free agency]

Sacramento has designed their entire offense around Fox and they intend to continue that trend in the coming seasons.

Siakam had a great season for the Raptors, finishing the year averaging 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds in his third NBA season. He was a huge part of Toronto's success this season, which culminated in the team's first NBA Championship.

NBA free agency 2019: Examining Kings' current roster construction

NBA free agency 2019: Examining Kings' current roster construction

The 2019 NBA Draft is over and now the real work begins for the Sacramento Kings. They have massive holes to fill in their roster and a Brinks truck full of cash to spend.

Free agency begins June 30, although no one can officially sign until July 6. Teams around the league are lining up for big fish like Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Khris Middleton, Kevin Durant, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler and Al Horford.

Sacramento is an up-and-coming team with a solid core and a play style that should be attractive to free agents. Whether they can land a big fish is still in question, but they have the cash to be a player.

Long-term flexibility is still a priority, but adding a major piece or two is a necessity at this point with the improvements throughout the Western Conference.

Cap Space 

$60.8 million (with seven minimum scale -- 7 x $900,000 = $6.3 million) cap holds and without the contracts of Yogi Ferrell, Frank Mason and three second-round selections

Current Roster

(Guaranteed contracts): De’Aaron Fox ($6.4 million), Buddy Hield ($4.9 million), Bogdan Bogdanovic ($8.5 million), Marvin Bagley ($8.6 million), Nemanja Bjelica ($6.8 million), Harry Giles ($2.6 million), Caleb Swanigan ($2 million)

Options: Yogi Ferrell ($3.2 million team option July 4), Frank Mason ($1.6 million team option Oct. 15)

Free Agents: Kosta Koufos (UFA -- $16.6 million cap hold), Willie Cauley-Stein (projected RFA -- $6.3 million qualifying offer, $14.1 million cap hold), Alec Burks (UFA -- $17.3 million cap hold), Harrison Barnes (UFA -- $32.7 million cap hold), Corey Brewer (UFA -- $2.4 million cap hold)

Dead Money: Matt Barnes ($2.1 million)

Roster Space: Without counting any of the three second-round selections, the King' roster currently stands at seven, but that number could grow to nine if they pick up the team options on both Yogi Ferrell and Frank Mason.

Needs: Center, Small Forward, Defenders, Overall Depth

Trade Chips

In past season, the Kings have had at least a few veteran players on expiring contracts. That is not the case this year. If they are going to improve their roster, it has to come through free agency or as a soft landing spot for a salary dump.

If the team extends a qualifying offer to Willie Cauley-Stein, they can possibly facilitate a sign-and-trade, but there is limited value in this scenario. The team could also dip into their young core, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Expectations

The Kings have holes to fill and this is a strong free-agent class. Vlade Divac has to dip his toe in Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the group, even if that means overpaying or swinging and missing.

He also needs to get on the phone and see if he can improve his team by taking on a significant contract from a team that is either over the luxury threshold or in need of a reboot.

[RELATED: 10 options to replace Willie Cauley-Stein in free agency, trade]

Last summer the team took a cautious approach to free agency. That cannot be the team’s approach this year.

The Western Conference has loaded up. Teams like the Lakers and Jazz have already made significant strides forward. If the Kings hope to compete for a playoff spot, they need help and they need it now.