Kings

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

Response to adversity opens Kings, Golden 1 Center to national conversation

SACRAMENTO -- Gavin Maloof once described a potential downtown Sacramento arena as “a beacon of light, shining bright.” Vivek Ranadivé likened the idea of Golden 1 Center as the modern town square, cathedral or communal hearth.

On Friday, Ranadivé might have finally found the best way to describe his $500-plus million arena in the center of Sacramento’s downtown core. Speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Ranadivé said, "you can't always dictate what the stories are that are being told around the fireplace."

Thousands of protesters surrounded Ranadivé’s fireplace on Thursday evening. They locked arms and barred fans from coming in the building as the Kings faced the Atlanta Hawks.

In one night, Golden 1 Center was transformed from the home of the Kings, to something much more. It became the meeting place for the protesters to vent their frustrations after the officer-involved shooting death of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old African American from South Sacramento.

The Kings’ first reaction was to protect the fans that had entered the building. They locked down the arena and cleared everyone from the massive windows that highlight the grand entrance. The limited number of fans allowed in the building were treated to seat upgrades and unlimited free food.

After securing the safety of the fans inside, the team chose a specific course of action. Instead of pointing fingers at protesters who likely cost the franchise hundreds of thousands of dollars, they allowed Golden 1 Center to become the heart of Sacramento.

It’s not always going to be about basketball or concerts or Disney on Ice. For Golden 1 Center to become what Ranadivé envisions, it has to be a place for everyone.

Instead of shunning the protest and turning their ire towards the thousands outside, Ranadivé had his defining moment, not just as an owner, but as a leader in the Sacramento community.

“The Kings recognize your people’s ability to protest peacefully and we respect that,” Ranadivé said from center court. “We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously and we stand before you; old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment.”

His postgame speech was humble and showed a different side of the Kings’ Chairman. It was also a moment for the franchise to become part of a larger conversation that is facing nearly every community in America.

To turn a blind eye to social injustice and civil unrest would violate the spirit of what Golden 1 Center was created for. If it is truly the fireplace of Sacramento, then there has to be an open invitation - not just for basketball, and not just for protests, but for all that a community has to give.

The Kings aren’t asking for games to be interrupted on a regular basis. But the team’s handling of the situation has opened the door for Golden 1 Center to become the communal meeting place they hoped it would be when they broke ground.

Marvin Bagley III: Kings training camp profile

Marvin Bagley III: Kings training camp profile

Luka Doncic was the easy pick at No. 2, but Marvin Bagley III might have a higher ceiling. After demolishing the ACC as a freshman, the Kings selected Bagley with the hopes that he can be a superstar. Only time will tell if they made the right decision.

Bagley is long and has incredible quickness for a man his size. He’s also young and will take time to develop into a consistent NBA regular. He’ll be counted on for a major role with the Kings this season as they look to push the tempo and go young, but his production will likely be all over the board. 

Strengths

Players don’t typically stroll into the ACC and average 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game as an 18-year-old freshman. Bagley is special on the offensive end and his game should translate well to the NBA game. 

At 6-foot-11, 235-pounds, Bagley will be asked to play both the power forward and center position throughout his career. He has an incredible ability to get off the floor multiple times in a short period of time, which will help him as both a rebounder and a defender. 

He has an advanced post game, range on his jumper and he can really move both in transition and in the halfcourt. As De’Aaron Fox and Yogi Ferrell look to push the tempo, they will find a running mate in Bagley, who gets from one end of the court to the other as well as any big in the league.

In his lone season in college, Bagley shot 39.7 percent from long range and he has potential to play some stretch four at the NBA level. His jumper is solid, although he rushed it a bit during summer league action. Shot selection will be an issue early, but he has a scorers mentality. 

His quick leaping ability draws comparisons to Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, but it’s a little early to put him in the upper echelon of rebounders. It should also help on the defensive end, where he showed some potential to block and redirect shots during summer league action.

Weaknesses

Bagley comes into the league with the same issues that most young players have. He needs to get stronger, add weight and learn how to play defense. He has good length and an incredible vertical leap, but he’s only figured out how to use these tools on one end of the court.

As a scorer, there is a lot to love about Bagley. There are also some concerns. He relies too heavily on his left hand in the post, almost completely avoiding his right. He’s not the only big to play to his dominant hand, but if he is going to become an elite scorer in the post, he’ll need to learn how to go right.

He’ll need time to develop as a passer and he’s probably going to struggle to hold his position in the blocks. Bagley has a big frame, but it will likely take two or three years to fill out. 

Bagley’s struggles on the defensive end were well chronicled at Duke. Mike Krzyzewski even went to a zone defense to hide him for long stretches. There is potential here, but he’ll have to study the game and improve his basketball IQ if he hopes to hold his own at the NBA level. 

Path to Improvement

If Bagley can bring the same type of offensive firepower he showed both as a prep athlete and at the collegiate level, the Kings might have a Blake Griffin-type offensive weapon. He needs to show that he can score with his right. He needs to hit the glass and pull down 10 boards a game. He needs to engage on the defensive end. 

Until we see the NBA product, it’s hard to guess who and what Bagley will be or how he can improve. What we do know is that he walked into one of the tougher leagues outside of the NBA and dominated at a very young age. 

Projection

Like Harry Giles, Bagley is going to see plenty of court time this season. As a No. 2 overall pick, the Kings have placed a good portion of their future in his development. The coaching staff will work hard to make him passable on the defensive end and they will push him to hit the glass and rebound outside of his zone. 

You don’t sit a player like this. You run him out there and hope he makes adjustments and finds his way. Expect Bagley to either start on opening night at the four or be the first big off the bench. 

An early prediction has Bagley posting 14 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 assists in 27 minutes per game as a rookie. Those numbers could even jump higher if the Kings’ offense finds a new gear. 

Bagley will be a work in progress, but the potential for greatness is there. Expect him to get every opportunity to shine in his rookie season. 

Harry Giles: Kings training camp profile

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AP

Harry Giles: Kings training camp profile

The Sacramento Kings took a gamble when they selected Harry Giles III with the 20th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. After redshirting the former No. 1 rated prospect last season, it’s time to test the knees of the 20-year-old power forward. 

Giles looked solid with limited talent around him during the California Classic and in Las Vegas for Summer League. He’s a high energy player that barks and sometimes bites. It’s the type of player the Kings have needed for a long time, although all expectations should be qualified with the fact that Giles has played very few minutes in the last three years.

Strengths

Giles has the all the physical tools you are looking for in an elite big man. At 6-foot-10, 250-pounds, the former Duke Blue Devil can play both the four and the five. In January, the Kings took Giles to P3 in Southern California for testing and his agility scores ranked with elite small forwards.

While he hasn’t seen court time at the NBA level, behind the scenes both the coaching staff and his teammates have raved about Giles’ passing skills. He has incredible court vision and he’s a very willing passer. Sacramento could really use a quality high-post passer and in limited action, Giles has shown an ability to draw a crowd in the lane and find the open man.

His passing skills have drawn comparisons to former Kings great, Chris Webber, but so have his hands. Giles has huge mitts, which he uses to attack the glass on both ends of the floor. He projects as an elite rebounder, which happens to help one of the team’s biggest weaknesses.

In summer league, Giles stood out on the defensive side of the ball. He directed traffic and demanded accountability from his teammates. It’s early, but his intensity and defensive IQ has drawn comparisons to the Warriors Draymond Green.  

Weaknesses


Giles needs to find a way to stay healthy. He’s put in the work with the Kings’ strength and conditioning staff to build his legs strength. Giles also focused on his core to help support a tremendous frame. After suffering ACL tears in both knees as a prep athlete, the fear will always be there, but he’s put in the work to come back healthy.

As a scorer, Giles is a work in progress. He shoots from the left side of his face, but he takes a direct path to get there, unlike the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball, who loops the ball all the way from the right to left. He has range all the way to the 3-point line, but he’ll likely stay inside the arc in his rookie season in the league.

On the defensive side of the ball, Giles is a beast. He also plays with a fire and energy that sometimes gets him in trouble. There’s a good chance he’ll struggle with foul trouble early in his career as he adjusts to quality of talent in the NBA game. He also runs hot, which might get him in some trouble with officials.

Path to Improvement


Giles tore the ACL in his left knee in 2013 and then did the same thing to his right knee in 2015 in his first game of his senior year in high school. He underwent a cleanout procedure before stepping on the floor at Duke, which is customary in bilateral knee injury recovery. The surgery at Duke limited him to just 300 minutes of action for coach Mike Krzyzewski.

If ever there was an NBA unknown, it’s Giles. He was the star of Team USA basketball as a prep. He was a star when he played at the highschool level. The reality is that he’s played 300 minutes in three years.

The path for improvement starts and ends with being able to play. Anything and everything after that is gravy in year one. It should be noted that Kenyon Martin, Danny Manning and Amar’e Stoudemire all played 14 seasons or more with similar injuries. The group combined for nine All-Star appearances and technology and medical advancements have improved since their time in the league.

Projection


Giles is going to play. Where he fits in is still a question mark. With his natural size and strength, he can play either frontline position. If he can remain healthy, there is a chance that he and rookie Marvin Bagley III will see major time together this season.

There is a good chance that Bagley and Willie Cauley-Stein start the season ahead of Giles in the rotation, but counting him out is a mistake. While he didn’t see a second of NBA action last season, Giles practiced with the team all year and he knows the terminology and playbook. 

A conservative prediction has Giles posting 9-10 points, 7-8 rebounds and two-plus assists in 24 minutes per game as a rookie. Those numbers could jump considerably if he earns a starting spot coming out of training camp.