Kings takeaways: What we learned in preseason rout of Maccabi Haifa

Associated Press

Kings takeaways: What we learned in preseason rout of Maccabi Haifa

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings made their NBA preseason debut at Golden 1 Center on Monday night and took care of business. They shook off a slow start to throttle Maccabi Haifa by a final of 132-100.

It was a team effort for the Kings, as seven players finished in double-figure scoring. As a team, Sacramento shot 53.1 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from 3-point range, and dished out 36 assists.

Josh Childress scored 18 and Kennedy Meeks added 17 to lead Maccabi. Scott Machado chipped in 15 points and four assists for the Israeli league team.

Here are three takeaways from the Kings' lopsided win.

Welcome to the ballclub

Nemanja Bjelica missed the Kings’ first three preseason games with a sore knee. He finally made his debut Monday night and had an immediate impact.

The 30-year-old combo-forward started and scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and picked up three blocks. He was active on the defensive end and showed a knack for being in the right position for the rebound.

You can’t have enough high basketball IQ players on your squad.

Justin Jackson sighting

Jackson has struggled early in the preseason, but Maccabi Haifa might have been just what the doctor ordered.

The sophomore small forward looked confident with his shot, knocking down 4-for-8 from long range on his way to 18 points. He added three rebounds and two assists.

Jackson has started all four preseason games at small forward for Sacramento, but this was his first double-digit scoring effort.

Starter or sixth man?

Buddy Hield looked great as the Kings’ first option off the bench last season. He was comfortable in the role and carved out a niche.

In the Kings' first three preseason games, though, Hield started in place of the injured Bogdan Bogdanovic. Against Maccabi Haifa, Kings coach Dave Joerger mixed it up, starting Frank Mason III alongside De’Aaron Fox. Whether it’s a comfort issue, getting more shots or a one-off, Hield was brilliant in a reserve role.

The third-year guard shot 9-for-11 from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from long range on his way to a game-high 22 points. He added five assists and two steals in 27 minutes of action.

Kings vs. Mavericks live stream: How to watch NBA game online on MyTeams

NBC Sports Bay Area staff

Kings vs. Mavericks live stream: How to watch NBA game online on MyTeams

The Kings will continue on the road as they face the Mavericks in Dallas on Sunday evening. 

The Kings (15-13) have a bit of a battle ahead of them with the Mavs riding major success at home (13-2) and there is the return of Dirk Nowitzki. 

But, there's De'Aaron Fox who has been sensational. He's coming off a strong performance during the 130-125 loss to the Warriors on Friday finishing with 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and two steals.

Here's how you can watch Kings-Mavericks, as well as NBC Sports California's pregame and postgame coverage, live on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app. 

When: 4 p.m. PT on Sunday, Dec. 16 (pregame show starts at 3:30 p.m.)
Live Stream: MyTeams by NBC Sports app

Was Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic right for Kings? NBA exec weighs in

Was Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic right for Kings? NBA exec weighs in

Sunday was supposed to be the day that fans got to see Marvin Bagley III and Luka Doncic on the same court for the first time.

That notion was derailed by a knee injury to the Kings’ rookie big man, so all eyes will be on Doncic instead.

Bagley and Doncic likely will be mentioned together throughout their careers. The Kings passed on Doncic with the second overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, choosing Bagley over the European phenom.

Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the third overall selection, Doncic was dealt to Dallas on draft night for the rights to Trae Young and a future first-round pick.

Doncic is off to a great start in his rookie season, ranking second on the Mavs in scoring per game at 17.8. He’s a high basketball-IQ player who’s acting as Dallas’ primary ball-handler when he’s on the court.

Why the Kings passed on Doncic has been asked and answered quite a few times. Vlade Divac and his group believe Bagley is a player with a higher ceiling than Doncic. 

Sacramento’s front office also believed Bagley was a better fit for the team they have assembled, and they were comfortable taking the gamble on the 6-foot-11 big out of Duke.

Speaking to a rival NBA executive who had Doncic rated higher on his draft board than Bagley, he can see why the Kings made the move they did. 

This exec has been impressed with Bagley’s ability to get off the floor, and his second jump is even better than advertised. Coming into the draft process, the exec had concerns over Bagley’s defense, but he now believes that aspect of the evaluation process might have been overblown.

He likes the way Bagley moves in a crowd and the way he aggressively gets to a spot. He sees a bright future for the Kings’ rookie.

When evaluating Doncic, the executive says he still loves what he sees. He had the Slovenian-born guard as his No. 2 overall prospect.

He also agrees that Doncic might not have been a great fit with the Kings. With De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic already on the roster, adding another ball-dominant player might not have worked. 

The two will be linked for a long time, and it’s too early to tell who will have a better career. Doncic is off to a great start, but his experience playing overseas had him better prepared to step into the league and perform. 

As a big, Bagley likely will take a year or two longer to fully develop, but his size, speed and athleticism are elite, and he has star potential.