Kings

Kings Youth Movement: Tracking young core through first 10 games

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NBC Sports Bay Area

Kings Youth Movement: Tracking young core through first 10 games

It’s a youth movement in Sacramento. After finishing last season with a focus on youth, head coach Dave Joerger has continued the trend to start the 2018-19 season.

The results have been a pleasant surprise, with the Kings jumping off to a 6-4 start over their first 10 games.

We’ll track their improvements throughout the 2018-19 campaign. Here is a first look at how the young core stacks up early in the season.

VIEW KINGS YOUTH MOVEMENT

Kings’ De'Aaron Fox shares reason behind his improved 3-point shooting

Kings’ De'Aaron Fox shares reason behind his improved 3-point shooting

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings are the surprise team of the early NBA season and point guard De’Aaron Fox is a big reason for the quick start.

The sophomore playmaker looks like a different player on the court and he continues to improve almost every time he steps on the court.

Fox is known for his incredible speed and quickness, but he’s added a new element to his game this year that is opening up the spacing on the floor and allowing him even more room to operate.

After shooting 30.7 percent from behind the arc in his rookie campaign, Fox has come out hot early, knocking down 19-of-43 from 3-point range for a blistering 44.2 percent.

“It’s just confidence,” Fox said following practice on Tuesday. “Shooting the ball with confidence every time. Shooting the ball like every shot is going to go in.”

[RELATED: Joerger wants more from Fox]

Fox started the season slow from long range, shooting just 4-of-19 in eight games in October. In six games in the month of November, the 20-year-old has hit 15-of-24 (62.5 percent) from deep as he’s become more comfortable on the floor. 

The former Kentucky star added 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason and he spent plenty of time hoisting up shots, but he hasn’t really made many adjustments in his stroke.

“I didn’t really change any mechanics,” Fox said. “Looking at college I kind of saw that I brought the ball back too far, but other than that, it wasn’t anything major.” 

The increase in range has helped his overall field goal percentage as well. Fox shot just 41.2 percent from the field last season, compared to the 50.8 percent he’s posted through 14 games. 

He is running to the rack in transition and when teams give him space, he’s pulling up for open threes. There is no hesitation in his game, which is a major sign of growth. 

“I think it’s extremely different,” Fox said of his play this season versus last year. “I think with shooting the ball better comes a lot more things.”

[RELATED: Fox at front of surprising Kings]

It’s early, but Fox is averaging 18.7 points, 7.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 32.7 minutes per game. He’s garnering attention around the league for his strong start and he is a big piece to the Kings’ early success. 

If there is one knock on Fox so far, he’s struggled at the line, which he is the first to point out.

“I’ve been pretty efficient, right now I just need to make free throws,” Fox said. “I feel like every other aspect of my game is going pretty well, but I got to get the easy ones.”

Fox is using his new found confidence to attack the rim more frequently this season. As a rookie, he attempted just 2.7 free throw attempts per game, hitting on 72.3 percent from the stripe. During the 2018-19 season, he’s bumped his attempts to 6.2 per game, but he’s knocking down just 67.8 percent.

The sample size is still small, but the improvement Fox has shown early is remarkable. He came into the season on a mission and so far, he’s lived up to all the hype of a top five draft selection.

Now healthy, Bogdan Bogdanovic has lofty goals for Kings, including playoffs

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USATSI

Now healthy, Bogdan Bogdanovic has lofty goals for Kings, including playoffs

SACRAMENTO -- There are very few things worse for a player than sitting on the sidelines with an injury and having to watch. Watching your team lose and wondering if you could have helped. Watching your team win and wishing you were part of the magic.

Bogdan Bogdanovic wanted to play from the opening tip of the season. He had put in the time in the gym during the summer to ready his body for the rigors of an 82-game NBA schedule. He even had undergone a scope on his left knee to free up the joint, with the hopes of a pain-free sophomore campaign.

As the season approached, the 26-year-old wing joined the Serbian national team for a tune-up for the season. It was no different than playing in a pickup game at the Kings’ practice facility or playing some friends in a game of three-on-three.

Unfortunately for Bogdanovic, something unexpected happened during a World Cup qualifying game against Estonia. He felt discomfort in the knee, and upon returning to Sacramento for evaluation, it was determined that he would need a second procedure on the same knee.

While Bogdanovic anxiously awaited his return, the Kings got off to an unexpected fast start. He missed the first 10 games of the season, having to sit courtside while his teammates amassed a 6-4 record. 

When he finally got a chance to return to the court a week ago against the Toronto Raptors, he struggled, and so did his team, dropping the game 114-105. Still lacking medical clearance to play in back-to-back games, Bogdanovic sat out Friday’s win over the Timberwolves but returned to the court for the team’s loss to the Lakers on Saturday.

[RELATED: Bogdan shines in win over Spurs]

Bogdanovic finally looked like the player the Kings have grown accustomed to seeing in the team’s Monday win over the San Antonio Spurs. Coming off the bench, Bogdanovic posted a team-high 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting in 25 minutes. 

“It’s a great feeling, I cannot lie,” Bogdanovic said of being part of the win. “You can see it in my emotions. It’s a totally different feeling than when you’re playing bad and your team loses. It’s just different.” 

The Kings didn’t exactly turn over their roster this summer. A few veterans are gone, but the core of the team -- with the exception of Nemanja Bjelica, Marvin Bagley and Yogi Ferrell -- are almost the same.

Sacramento is finding success with young players and a new style of play. For Bogdanovic, the growth of the team’s team is exciting to see.

“It’s amazing how we suddenly improved from last year,” Bogdanovic said. “I remember we didn’t didn’t know some of the plays in the season -- ‘Where’s my spot, where should I be?’ I talk about everyone generally. And now I think we know the roles more and more.”

Bogdanovic remains on a minutes restriction, but he hopes to play in the Kings’ upcoming back-to-back on the road in Memphis and Houston on Friday and Saturday. Following that stretch, he hopes to be cleared for full duty moving forward.

[RELATED: Positives and negatives from the Kings' win over the Spurs]

After starting his rookie season 3-11 through 14 games, including a seven-game losing streak in the first two weeks, Bogdanovic has high hopes for the team this season.

“We are really trying to make the playoffs this year, and I know that sounds crazy for somebody, but that’s our motivation,” Bogdanovic said.

The Kings have a long way to go before people outside the locker room start talking about a potential playoff run. At 8-6, the team is playing much better than expected, and once Bogdanovic is completely cleared for regular duty, Sacramento will have another weapon to run out on the floor for major minutes.