Three things to watch in Kings' preseason game vs. Maccabi Haifa


Three things to watch in Kings' preseason game vs. Maccabi Haifa

SACRAMENTO -- Three down, three to go. After a drubbing at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings look to get back on the winning track during the exhibition season. They’ll face Maccabi Haifa, an Israeli Liga Leumit team, hungry to make an impression. 

The Kings are trying to find their way. They have youth and talent, but they need it all to come together quickly. They’ve had a few bright moments through three games, but they’ve also had issues on both ends of the court.

Maccabi Haifa comes to Golden 1 Center with a familiar name. Former Stanford Cardinal and NBA wing, Josh Childress, highlights the roster. The 35-year-old hasn’t played in the league since 2014, but has just under $40 million in career earnings stateside.

[RELATED: Positives, negatives from Kings' preseason]

Here are three things to watch as the Kings attempt to put on a show in front of their home crowd. 

Get better

The Kings looked bad against Golden State. They struggled to defend and they shot just 34.7 percent from the field. Finding consistency is a very difficult task for a young player to learn. When you throw a dozen or so young players together, chaos often ensues. 

Maccabi Haifa isn’t exactly a world beater. The Kings have an opportunity to work on their execution and Dave Joerger can continue to experiment with his roster. The plan is to get out and run on every possession. That doesn’t mean that they can forget about defending on the other end. 

Step up

With guard Bogdan Bogdanovic sitting out, the Kings need Buddy Hield to take a huge leap in his production. This is his third season in the league. He’s an elite shooter and projects as a high-end scorer.

So far in the preseason, Hield has struggled in two of the three games. His defense against Klay Thompson wasn’t starter level. If the Kings are going to compete this season, Hield has to bring it, at least until Bogdanovic returns.

Feed the bigs

So far, Harry Giles III and Marvin Bagley III have impressed. Giles is second on the team in scoring at 15 points per game and he’s third in rebounding with six boards a night. The Duke product has struggled to stay out of foul trouble, but that’s typical of a young player.

Bagley is up and down, but he’s fourth on the team in scoring with 11.3 points per game and his 7.3 rebounds a night rank second behind Willie Cauley-Stein. 

At some point, these two are going to need to carry more of the load. The coaching staff should test them by running the offense through one or the other on each play. It’s not an easy task, but if these two are the future, force them to perform.

Harry Giles sends message in Kings return after one-game G League stay


Harry Giles sends message in Kings return after one-game G League stay

SACRAMENTO -- Harry Giles is full of energy, and when he steps onto an NBA court, the excitement seems to get the better of the Kings rookie.

It’s a young player issue, and the big man is no ordinary young player. He fought through two major knee surgeries and thousands of hours of rehabilitation to get where he is today. After playing just 300 minutes over a three-year period, Giles has every reason to be amped up when he steps on the floor.

Fresh off a trip to the G League's Stockton Kings, Giles picked up some early run in the Kings’ win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday night. Although he had a successful stint, Giles' opening minute looked very similar to some of his previous games.

Eighteen seconds into his first appearance off the bench, Giles traveled. On the next trip down, he nearly had the ball stolen, and then he seemed to wake up.

After bobbling the ball, Giles attacked his defender, flashed to the rim and missed a layup. He bounced right back up, grabbed the rebound and tipped the ball in.

[RELATED: Gregg Popovich notes Kings' drastic culture change]

It was aggressive. It was physical. It was the Harry Giles that everyone expected when the season opened in mid-October.

“I just need to slow down, man, and just know that you don’t have to be in a rush all the time,” Giles said. “The first time I was in the game, I actually had a turnover when Frank [Mason] threw the ball. After that, I was like OK, I know what I got to do now, and I applied it from there.”

It’s hard to live up to the hype. After Giles redshirted last season in Sacramento, the buzz surrounding the 20-year-old reached a fever pitch before he ever played a minute in the NBA. It only grew after he posted a solid summer league and preseason.

Giles wants to be great. He has worked hard just to be able to step on the court, but like most young players, the mental aspect of the game is getting in the way. He’s playing too fast and compounding his mistakes by forcing the action.

The former top prep prospect played in 10 of the first 14 games for the Kings, averaging 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per night. His numbers were limited because of foul and turnover trouble, as well as an abundance of big bodies on the roster in Sacramento.

After seeing very limited time over the last eight games, the Kings sent Giles to the G League on Sunday. He dominated the action, scoring 30 points in just 23 minutes.

Being sent down to the G League usually can go one of two ways with a young player. They either accept the opportunity and try to improve their game, or they sulk and it becomes a negative in their development.

For Giles, it seemed to wake him up and motivate him to find his game quickly at the NBA level when given a chance.

“It gave me a new charge, a new energy, just playing where I was at,” Giles said of his stint in Stockton. “I got some things done, but it just kind of set off a different fire in me to just do what I want to do up here. I’m just trying to be up here.”

The way the Kings currently are playing, everyone has an opportunity to shine during a game. The uptempo style creates an abundance of shots. So far this season, the Kings have shared the wealth, and everyone has had an chance to shine.

Giles can easily fit into this style of play. He’s athletic and strong, and his ability to create for others eventually will help open up the floor.

[RELATED: Two positives, two negatives from Kings' win over the Spurs]

Against the Spurs, Giles finished with a career-best 12 points and added six rebounds in 16 minutes of play. He also played solid defense on All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.

“It was great,” De’Aaron Fox said of Giles’ performance. “He was real comfortable, real confident. Sometimes that’s really all you need. Sometimes it’s all about confidence.”

The Kings have a three-day break in the schedule to rest up and work out some of the kinks. When the team hits the road for a back-to-back in Memphis and Houston later in the week, don’t be surprised to see Giles in the rotation and building off his strong performance against the Spurs.

Kings team up with American Red Cross to aid victims of the Camp Fire


Kings team up with American Red Cross to aid victims of the Camp Fire

SACRAMENTO -- A little over two years after its opening, Golden 1 Center continues to be the centerpiece of Sacramento. For the last few days, the home of the Kings has been under siege by invading smoke from the Camp Fire that has destroyed most of the city of Paradise, California, some 90 miles north of Sacramento.

During the loss to the Lakers on Saturday evening, LeBron James and other Lakers players commented on the smoke inside the building. But during Monday evening’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs, the air was close to normal in the 17,000 seat arena.

The Kings have been working overtime to process and remove smoke from inside the building. It’s an ongoing challenge that required the team to bring in heavy machinery, including additional HVAC units and carbon filters, to properly control the air quality in the arena. 

During shootaround on Monday, Golden 1 Center looked mostly clear with giant machines humming in the background. Smoke started to roll into Sacramento in the early afternoon, but the team was successful in keeping most of the unhealthy air outside throughout the game. 

According to the Sacramento Bee, the 125,000 acre Camp Fire is 35 percent contained. It has consumed 7,600 structures and the death count is currently at 42, with hundreds still missing and thousands left homeless.

The Kings are accepting donations on behalf of the American Red Cross and will match up to the first $15,000. In addition, the team’s staff is spending time calling Kings fans to help drive the fundraising initiative.

According to the team, Golden 1 Center visitors can donate directly to the Red Cross at Local Eats stands during concerts, games and events. Additionally, at an upcoming Kings game, the Kings Foundation 50/50 Raffle proceeds will directly benefit the American Red Cross.