Kings Under Review: Positives, negatives from crazy win over Pacers

Kings Under Review: Positives, negatives from crazy win over Pacers

SACRAMENTO -- Expect the unexpected. With time winding down, Willie Cauley-Stein bailed out the Sacramento Kings with a soaring putback dunk to give his team a late one-point lead over the Indiana Pacers with a little over 16 seconds remaining. After a wild series of events in the final seconds, Sacramento found a way to come out victorious and snap their three-game losing streak.

It wasn't always pretty, but the Kings continue to defy the odds makers. They're fighting their way through adversity both on and off the court and staying together as a group.

The Kings currently stand at 11-11 on the season after the 111-110 win over the Pacers. Here are two positives and two negatives from the game:


Cauley-Stein finishes strong

Cauley-Stein hasn't completely mastered the concept of consistency, but he's improved greatly in his fourth NBA season. The 7-footer rushed his shot early against fellow 2015 lottery pick, Myles Turner, but he calmed down and put together a very nice game for Sacramento.

The 25-year-old center finished with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds, in the win. It was the eighth double-double of the season for the former Kentucky star.

More important than the numbers, Cauley-Stein stayed completely engaged in the final play of the game. He tracked De'Aaron Fox on his drive to the hoop and went in for the big finish off the miss. Sometimes the little things are the difference between a win and a loss.

The Bench

Trying to snap the three-game skid, Dave Joerger turned to a tight nine-man rotation. Bogdan Bogdanovic is the leader of the second unit, but he's not the only one off the bench who came up big for the Kings against the Pacers.

Justin Jackson played one of his better games of the season. The second-year wing finished with eight points, three rebounds, two assists and a team-high plus-10 in the plus/minus category.

Two-way player, Troy Williams, chipped in 12 points on a perfect 3-of-3 from long range and he provided a spark on both ends of the court with his aggressive play.

Kosta Koufos has sat out plenty of games this season for one reason or another. With Marvin Bagley missing the action due to back spasms, the veteran 7-footer got the call and played spectacular team and individual defense in his 15 minutes off the bench. He was rusty offensively, but managed to grab seven rebounds and shut down the Pacers' Domantas Sabonis.


Free throw woes

The Kings are the worst free throw shooting team in the league and it almost cost them the game against Indiana. As a team, Sacramento is 16th in the league in free throw attempts, going to line 23.4 times per game. They hit just 69.4 percent of those opportunities.

Free throws seem simple enough, but the Kings have struggled to figure them out. In the win over the Pacers, the Kings shot just 16-of-24 from the stripe and with the game on the line in the fourth, they missed three.

The Kings escaped with a one-point win, but that wasn't the case last Saturday in Oakland. Sacramento missed eight free throws in that game as well, including one at the 1:07 mark of the fourth quarter by Bagley. A missed tip-in during the final seconds could have won the game for the Kings, but a made freebie a minute earlier would have tied the game.

Sloppy play

The Kings run and gun and cover their mistakes by getting as many possessions as possible. That doesn't mean that they can give the ball away at will.

Sacramento turned the ball over 20 times against Indiana, led by a team-high six from Fox. Eight of the nine players that stepped on the floor for the Kings gave it away at least once.

On the plus side, the Pacers finished with 25 turnovers. They tried to run with the Kings and it led to a lot of mistakes. Sabonis finished with seven turnovers and former King, Darren Collison added six for Indiana in the loss.

De'Aaron Fox roasts Fran Fraschilla over Zion Williamson, Duke tweet

De'Aaron Fox roasts Fran Fraschilla over Zion Williamson, Duke tweet

De'Aaron Fox isn't here for Fran Fraschilla's college basketball takes.

After Zion Williamson thanked the program in a video announcing his intention to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft, Fraschilla sent out a tweet noting how much he believed playing for Duke helped the phenom build his brand and profile.

Well, Fox didn't agree with the notion that Duke had a lot to do with boosting Zion's worth, and he threw some shade at Fraschilla in a NSFW tweet.

In fairness, both sides have a point to make.

A year ago, Williamson was a YouTube dunking sensation, but questions about his overall skill level remained. But during his lone season in the spotlight at Duke, Williamson showed he was more than just a highlight-reel dunker, and has all the skills necessary to be the No. 1 overall pick.

However, Williamson should've had the ability to go straight to the NBA out of high school if he wanted. He still would have been a top-10 pick, and a lucrative shoe contract would have followed shortly after his name was called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

[RELATED: Fox responds to comments about MIP candidacy]

We'll give the win to Swipa.

Kings awards: Handing out end-of-year accolades for 2018-19 season

Kings awards: Handing out end-of-year accolades for 2018-19 season

The Sacramento Kings failed in their ultimate goal of making the postseason, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a very good year. The Kings finished the season at a surprising 39-43 and they stayed in playoff contention much longer than anyone expected.

Perhaps more important than the final outcome of the season, many of the young Kings players took major strides forward in their development. The core turning potential into production, making the future bright in Sacramento.

With the season in the books, here is NBC Sports California’s take on the end of year accolades for the team.

MVP -- Buddy Hield

Coming into training camp, Hield wasn’t expected to start. A late summer knee injury cost Bogdan Bogdanovic time, opening the door for a breakout season from the former Oklahoma star.

Known for his work ethic, Hield became more than just a scorer in his third NBA season. He improved as a defender, posted a career-high in assists and rebounds, and showed an ability to hit big shots.

Hield also led the team in scoring, finishing the year averaging 20.7 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists in 31.9 minutes per game. He flourished from behind the arc, posting the seventh most made 3-pointers in a single season in NBA history with 276 makes.

The 26-year-old shooting guard took a leap from potential sixth man to near All-Star and his energy on the court was infectious.

De’Aaron Fox is in the running for this award as well, but Hield gets the nod for his consistency throughout the entire season.

Most Improved Player -- De’Aaron Fox

Fox and Hield should both draw votes for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. As far as the Kings’ team goes, it’s close, but with Hield taking home the MVP, Fox gets the MIP.

Statistical jumps from year one to year two is expected in the NBA, but Fox’s leap stands out. He bumped his points per game from 11.6 to 17.3. He increased his assists from 4.4 to 7.3, with just a .4 increase in turnovers per game. He also shored up one of his biggest weaknesses, improving his 3-point percentage from 30.7 to 37.1 percent.

In addition to all of his statistical achievements, Fox became a leader in year two and appears ready to expand his game even farther in year three.

Defensive Player of the Year -- De’Aaron Fox

Fox wasn’t just a force leading the Kings’ uptempo offense. He showed incredible improvement as a defender in year two, especially in late-game situations.

The 21-year-old point guard has tremendous upside as a two-way player. He finished the season in the top 10 in the league in steals at 1.6 per game and as he gets stronger and more mature, there is plenty of room for growth.

Willie Cauley-Stein gets an honorable mention here. He led the team in defensive real plus/minus and defensive win shares. He put up a solid season, posting career-highs in both rebounds and blocks.

Biggest Surprise -- Nemanja Bjelica

A late addition to the roster, Bjelica stepped into the starting lineup and made a tremendous impact on the Kings, especially early in the season.

The 30-year-old out of Serbia almost went back overseas before signing a three-year deal with the Kings. He posted career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and minutes played, and shot over 40 percent from behind the arc.

Bjelica struggled for a stretch in the middle of the season, but he finished strong. His ability to help space the floor was a major bonus for the team and he was a better rebounder and defensive player than expected.

[RELATED: Fox responds to comments about his most improved candidacy]

Rookie of the Year -- Marvin Bagley

This isn’t exactly a fair category. Marvin Bagley was the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and his only competition for the award was a redshirt freshman who had played a total of 300 minutes over a three-year period.

Don’t get me wrong, Harry Giles was very impressive, especially in the month of March after he got his sea legs. Giles looks like a rotational player at a minimum, with the possibility to jump into the starting lineup down the road. But he’ll need time to develop after missing crucial development years.

Bagley jumped off the page from the moment he stepped foot on the floor. He needs to get stronger and build his overall skill base, but the 20-year-old power forward averaged 14.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and a block in 25.3 minutes per game.

A pair of knee injuries cost Bagley 20 games and plenty of momentum. A summer to work out the kinks should do wonders for the former Duke star.