Kings

In midst of skid, young Kings learning how to win games all over again

In midst of skid, young Kings learning how to win games all over again

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings spent a good part of the season learning how to win games. That process started all over again with the trade that sent DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.

After falling to the Washington Wizards 130-122 in overtime Friday night, the Kings have lost seven in a row. They are competitive, but for the second straight game, they blew a monster lead late.

“It doesn’t feel good when you miss shots down the stretch, it doesn’t feel good when you’re up 25 or 15 or whatever, but we’re maturing,” Arron Afflalo said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys and we’re still trying to learn how to win.”

Sacramento opened the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead over Washington, but John Wall and Bradley Beal kept playing. With Wall breaking down the Kings defense, Beal got fat on the perimeter, scoring 16 of his 38 points in the fourth and another five in the extra frame.  

“We’ve just got to find a way to hold our leads, we’ve been giving up these big leads,” Darren Collison said. “You figure we close these teams out early, they may just throw in the towel.”

The Wizards outscored the Kings 34-19 in the fourth to force an overtime session. Collison and Willie Cauley-Stein kept the Kings in the game with a series of pick-and-roll dunks. But the defensive stops never came.

“We’re not getting blown out,” Afflalo said. “We’ve lost six or seven in a row now, but we’re coming in here every game thinking we should have won. It doesn’t mean much in the standings, but we are getting better and trying to do the right thing.”

Since the Cousins trade, the Kings are 1-7. They’ve lost twice in overtime over that stretch and they have held leads in plenty of those games.

“It’s really tough, it’s really tough,” rookie Buddy Hield said. “We’ve just got to keep working, keep learning. In this league, you’ve got to learn how to win. It doesn’t come easy.”

You have to have a short memory in the NBA. The Kings return to the court looking to snap their skid on Saturday evening against the Denver Nuggets. It’s a work in progress, but at least they are competing while they transition to a young group of players.

 

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic re-injures left knee, needs another procedure

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Associated Press

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic re-injures left knee, needs another procedure

SACRAMENTO -- After a week of speculation, the verdict on Kings shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic’s knee is in.

For the second time this offseason, the Serbian is heading for a procedure on his left knee after an MRI revealed a minor injury. The timetable for his return is unknown at this time.

Bogdanovic re-injured his knee Monday while playing for the Serbian national team in World Cup qualifying. He felt discomfort in the knee during the first quarter against Estonia and left the game early. Once Bogdanovic was back in Sacramento, the Kings medical staff evaluated the 26-year-old wing this week and determined that action was needed.

According to the Kings, Monday’s procedure will be performed by Dr. Riley Williams in New York, and Bogdanovic is expected to make a full recovery. The team will send an update when more is known.

Bogdanovic averaged 11.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game for Sacramento in his rookie NBA season.

Zach Randolph: Kings training camp profile

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USATSI

Zach Randolph: Kings training camp profile

No one was more consistent on the offensive end for Sacramento than Zach Randolph last season. He fought back father time as long as possible and then finished the season as a spectator when the Kings went young.

Nothing is guaranteed in season two as a King for Randolph. The 37-year-old forward cashed in with the Kings, signing a two-year, $24 million deal in 2017. He’s owed $11.7 million this season, making him difficult to move via trade.  

The Kings plan to go young this year from the opening tip. That doesn’t bode well for Z-Bo, who is nearly twice the age of Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles III. 

Strengths

Randolph is a legendary tough guy that brings a grit and a personality to the floor. As he’s advanced as a player, he’s focused more on his perimeter game, extending all the way to the 3-point line where he shot an impressive 34.7 percent last season. 

Still a reliable scorer in the post, the Kings turned to the 17-year NBA veteran on countless occasions last season to help steady the ship. Randolph shot 63 percent at the rim and 50.9 percent inside of 10 feet last season. 

While he struggles to get off the floor, Randolph still managed to post 9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season by positioning and using his strength on the blocks.

On the defensive side of the ball, Randolph’s physical limitations hurt the team in transition and against quicker players. He can still hold his position in the post, but as a defender, he’s not a great option.

Weaknesses

The Kings went out and drafted a Ferrari to play the point guard and then paired him with a mack truck. Randolph is too slow to play in the uptempo offense the team hopes to transition to this season and would be better suited playing for a team that place a more methodical half court game.

As his game has moved away from the basket, Randolph’s field goal percentage and free throw attempts have steadily declined. He posted 2.2 assists per game last season, which is well above his career average, but he’s not a natural passer. 

Father time is undefeated. Randolph is stationary on both ends of the court. He can still score in bunches and get a rebound when you need it, but he can’t defend more athletic fours.

Path to Improvement

There is no way to turn back the hands of time. By adding the 3-point shot, Randolph extended his NBA career for few extra seasons, but even that has its limitations. 

The only path for improvement this season for Randolph is taking on an even larger role as a leader and locker room influence behind the scenes. With a fleet of young bigs, the Kings need Randolph to become more of a coach than a player and help teach the ins and outs of being a professional and the finer nuances of NBA post play. 

Projection

This is a complex situation. If the primary focus was just on wins, Randolph could still play 18-20 minutes per game and put up numbers. The Kings are going to run and gun and it’s hard to imagine Z-Bo keeping up. 

Bagley, Giles and Willie Cauley-Stein are the future and the present. Nemanja Bjelica fits the role of stretch four and Skal Labissiere is going to need some minutes as well. It’s a crowded front line and we haven’t even mentioned veteran Kosta Koufos. 

Z-Bo started 57 games and played 25.6 minutes per night last season for Dave Joerger. It would be shocking to see that again this year. Things can change, but Randolph’s court time should be limited this offseason barring a series of injuries or a complete collapse of scheme.