SACRAMENTO -- A night of firsts. When you walk into a season with five rookies, there are going to be a few new experiences for the team’s young players. While none of the Sacramento Kings’ draft class started the game, four of them played a role in the club’s 106-100 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
Sacramento’ prized rookie point guard, De’Aaron Fox, showed well in the preseason opener, scoring 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting with the second unit. He added two assists, a steal and a block in 16 minutes of action.
Coming off the bench was something new for Fox. According to the 19-year-old speedster, he’s started every game he’s ever played in.
“Skal (Labissiere) just kept telling us, ‘watch the flow of the game, see what’s going on out there,’” Fox said following the win. “As far as me, I’ve never come off the bench before, it was something different.”
The rookie drew a huge ovation when he came in the game and he didn’t disappoint. He has elite speed and he played under control. He’ll need time to develop, but there’s no question that he is an NBA player.
After years of starring in the European leagues and in international play, Bogdan Bogdanovic suited up in an NBA uniform for the first time.
“Finally, a dream come true, really,” the Serbian wing said. “I felt that I was an NBA player on the court. I’ll take this chance to thank my fans here. I was really surprised they cheered for me after the substitution and the most important thing is the win.”
Bogdanovic, 25, was the first player to enter the game off the bench. He subbed in for NBA legend Vince Carter, who welcomed him to the court with a huge smile.
While his numbers don’t jump off the page, Bogdanovic looked comfortable in his 13 minutes of action, coming away with two points and three rebounds. He made a concerted effort to get his teammates involved and even ran the offense flanked by Fox and second-year shooting guard Buddy Hield.
Frank Mason is no stranger to the big stage. The NCAA National Player of the Year put on show in 17 minutes of play, leading the team in both scoring (17 points) and rebounding (six boards). Coach Dave Joerger is going to have a difficult time keeping the spark plug off the court if he keeps putting up numbers.
“I really don’t like to talk about myself, it’s all about the team,” Mason said. “I think we did a pretty good job as a team, because we won the game and that’s the main goal.”
Mason was instant offense every time he stepped on the floor. The 23-year-old took the Spurs off the dribble and hit a variety of floaters in the lane. He also knocked down 2-for-4 from long range and 5-of-6 from the line as he attacked San Antonio’s backcourt.
Rookie Justin Jackson had a rough shooting night, scoring just one point on 0-for-7 shooting over 23 minutes. It’s a blip on the radar for the former North Carolina Tarheel. Jackson is expected to fight for minutes at the small forward position this season for the Kings.
Sacramento selected Harry Giles out of Duke with the 20th overall pick, but they plan on taking it slow with the 19-year-old power forward. Despite participating in training camp all week, Giles sat out due to bilateral knee rehab. There is no word on whether Giles will play during the preseason schedule.
The Kings took Tuesday off to rest, but they'll be back on the practice floor on Wednesday and Thursday before flying to San Antonio to face the Spurs for the second time on Friday evening.