Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles give Kings fans glimpse into bright future

Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles give Kings fans glimpse into bright future

SACRAMENTO -- Marvin Bagley shot to the post, pinned his man down and raised his hand to call for an entry pass. He was too late. Harry Giles had already established his footing in the high post, taken the ball and began assessing his options.

Bagley, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA draft is a walking double-double. Taken with the 20th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Giles is the brash, jack of all trades. This is 40 percent of your new Sacramento Kings second unit.

The tandem is turning heads with their play and giving the team a glimpse into what the future might look like.

“They are amazing, they are doing a great job and they are learning. They keep improving, they keep getting better,” Bogdan Bogdanovic said. “Both of them are hard workers and that’s what we need from them. They are doing a tremendous job.”

It’s a bold move to play the two rookies together. After playing limited minutes over the past three years due to a series of knee issues, Giles is just 20 years old. Bagley, 19, could still be a freshman in college if he didn’t petition the NCAA to enter a year early.

“They’ve got to learn somehow and they’re getting the time to experiment with their game and learn, and to see how this league operates,” Willie Cauley-Stein said.

Both former Duke Blue Devils, the plan is to let the pair grow together and build chemistry. Their contrast in style complements each other and they are quickly learning how to work together on the court.

“They’re both getting better individually, but they both look great playing together,” De’Aaron Fox said. “They know each other's tendencies.”

Since returning from a injury that cost him 11 straight games, Bagley is working himself back into shape. He’s averaging 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game over the four-game stretch, including a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double Monday against the Trail Blazers.

A top flight athlete, Bagley continues to show signs of star potential. His ability to rise up and shoot over the opposition in the lane is elite, as is his capacity to rebound in a crowd. He’s becoming a go-to scorer in the post, which gives the Kings an element they sorely need.

Giles is back in the rotation after a couple of stints in the G League. He’s adjusting to the speed of the game and finally finding a way to stay out of foul trouble. Giles had a breakout game in the team’s win over Detroit, which showed a lot of the improvements he is making.

“I told him, you’re still setting hard screens, now you’re setting more legal screens that are still hard and you’re not moving,” coach Dave Joerger said. “You’re in a stance defensively and your IQ is going up and your experience is going up so your communication is more effective.”

Where Bagley is an offensive force, Giles is equipped with elite court vision and a flare for the highlight reel pass. Giles is also active and physical on both ends of the court.

“When you add Harry and you add that vision at the high post, as well as the finishes in low post, I think it just calms us down,” Iman Shumpert said.

He can hit a jumper, take his opponent off the dribble and his jump hook is coming along nicely. Like Bagley, he can rebound at a high clip, but their contrasting styles are easy to spot.

“We’re going to need each other moving forward,” Bagley said. “It’s great having somebody who’s passionate like that, wants to win, who plays hard out there on the court at the same time as you.”

The two have started competing for rebounds, which is fun to watch. Bagley goes high for the boards, while Giles outpositions his opponent and snares the ball with his oversized hands.

For a team that ranks in the middle of the league in rebounding, the young duo is adding an ingredient that was missing before.

Both have a confidence level that comes from being elite prep prospects. They want to be on the court and they expect to succeed.

Joerger is slowly giving the pair a longer leash. He likes the early returns, but also has a vision for where they could be in a year or two. It takes patience and a lot of coaching to develop players, and bigs usually take a little longer than guards and wings.

In the modern NBA, you have to space the floor. Neither Bagley nor Giles have fully developed their 3-point shot, which makes things complicated for the coaching staff.

“Marvin’s a post up threat, Harry’s a post up threat, both of them are pretty good at the elbows,” Joerger said. “But if you kick them out to the perimeter, their dude ain’t running out with them at this point. That’s one of those, ‘not yet’ deals.”

There are stretches in the game where the coaching staff is running completely different play sets to help compliment the strengths of the young duo. The versatility of players like Bogdanovic, Yogi Ferrell and Justin Jackson helps out during these times.

Joerger, like most people, sees the talent level of the two and the team has a plan for how to get them to the next level. But patience is needed, not only from the team, but from the fanbase and the players themselves.

“Both of them are capable and both of them are improving their skills on the perimeter,” Joerger said. “I think that’s one of the things that everybody likes about their talent.”

It’s a long journey and Bagley and Giles are just starting to write their NBA stories. They are giving the league a small taste of what is to come.

Kings' De'Aaron Fox targeting return to lineup vs. Hornets on Tuesday

Kings' De'Aaron Fox targeting return to lineup vs. Hornets on Tuesday

De'Aaron Fox won't play Sunday against the Warriors in San Francisco, but the injured Kings point guard is close to returning.

"Right now, after talking to [the training staff], it could be as early as the Charlotte game," Fox told reporters in Sacramento before the Kings lost to the Knicks, 103-101 on Friday night. "I don't see it being as late as after Christmas, or even the Houston game right before Christmas. So right now, we're looking at between the Charlotte game and the Memphis game."

After making the drive down to San Francisco, the Kings head out on a three-game road trip. On Tuesday, they face the Hornets, followed by the Pacers on Friday. They finish the trip with a game against the Grizzlies on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Fox has been out since Nov. 11 when he sprained his ankle during practice. The team diagnosed him with a Grade 3 ankle sprain.

In Fox's absence, the Kings have gone 8-8, including Friday's fall to the lowly Knicks.

Offseason acquisition Cory Joseph has started every game since Fox got hurt and is averaging 5.7 points and 4.9 assists in 15 contests. Once Fox returns to the starting lineup, Joseph will move back to his bench role and lead the second unit.

[RELATED: Lack of intensity costs Kings against Knicks]

When Fox returns, the Kings will be fully healthy and should be poised to go on a run.

Kings' lack of maintaining intensity costs them game vs. lowly Knicks

Kings' lack of maintaining intensity costs them game vs. lowly Knicks

SACRAMENTO -- By the time the media arrived in the Sacramento Kings’ locker room Friday evening at Golden 1 Center, half of the locker room was already gone.

A few players stayed by to answer for the team’s disappointing 103-101 loss to the New York Knicks, but not nearly enough.

In classic Kings fashion, they went up big on a less than stellar opponent and then let off the gas. The victory by New York was just their sixth of the season against 20 losses.

“We took our foot off the pedal and let them come back and stick around the game when we had them kind of buried,” veteran Cory Joseph said.

In front of a sold-out crowd on their home floor, the Kings took a 16-point lead with 4:45 remaining in the third quarter. After a series of substitutions, Sacramento stopped moving the ball and settled for perimeter shots.

New York hit the Kings with an 11-3 run to finish the third to pull within eight points going to the fourth.

“We got up big and we just stopped doing the things that got us there,” Joseph said. “We stopped playing with that aggression and they out physicaled us down in the paint.”

The Knicks destroyed the Kings down low, outscoring them 56-32 in points in the paint, including an 18-10 advantage in the third as they tightened the game up.

“I’ve got to watch the film,” Marvin Bagley said. “They started getting easy buckets. I’ve got to go see what went wrong, but I really don’t know.”

The final 12 minutes was more of the same, except New York started to hit an occasional perimeter shot to help open the lane even more. The Knicks knocked down 4-of-8 from the perimeter in the fourth. Sacramento matched the number of makes with four, but they took 15 3-pointers in order to do it.

“We didn’t play enough of the 48 minutes to secure a win tonight,” coach Luke Walton said. “Give the Knicks credit. They knocked down shots. They made plays as that game went on.”

This isn’t the first time this season that the Kings have struggled against a beatable opponent on their home floor. They fell apart early in the season against the Hornets and then lost a game to the Chicago Bulls to open then December schedule. For a team with playoff aspirations, these are must-win games.

“Our guys were ready to play, we came out and were the aggressors, we built up a double-digit lead and then we didn’t do a good enough job of maintaining that type of play,” Walton said.

[RELATED: Walton suits up at Folsom to support criminal justice reform]

It’s back to the drawing board for the Kings. They’ll face another struggling opponent on Sunday when they travel to San Francisco to face the Golden State Warriors.

After playing in five straight NBA Finals, the Warriors are just 5-22 to start the season and they’ve lost three straight. Instead of playing to get back to .500, the Kings are 11-14 and back on the outside looking in of the Western Conference playoff standings.