Kings

Troy Williams making strong bid for Kings' roster spot: 'You notice him'

Troy Williams making strong bid for Kings' roster spot: 'You notice him'

SACRAMENTO -- The NBA is all about opportunity. For young players trying to break into the league, it may only knock once or twice ever and it’s the player that seizes that moment that usually finds a home. 

Kings fans were reminded of this fact on more than one front Wednesday evening at Golden 1 Center. Late in the game, former Kings draft pick, Malachi Richardson, stepped onto the court for cleanup duty. Selected by Sacramento with the 22nd overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, Richardson looked like a keeper midway through his rookie season and then he tore a hamstring muscle.

The injury lingered into the offseason of 2017 and then Richardson had another setback in Las Vegas Summer League. By the time he was ready to compete for minutes, the Kings had already moved forward with a different group of youngsters. 

Richardson’s opportunity had come and gone in Sacramento. He was shipped to the Raptors at the deadline later that season for Bruno Caboclo.

So far this season, Richardson has played in seven contests for a total of 35 minutes for Toronto. At 22-years-old, there is still time for him to make his mark in the league, but whether he gets another real opportunity to shine is unknown. 

While Richardson made a late appearance in the final two minutes against the Kings in the Raptors 114-105 win, another young player trying to secure a home in the league was adding to his highlight reel. 

The Kings inked Troy Williams to a two-way contract during the first week of the season and so far, he’s remained with the parent team and is making an impact. 

Against the Raptors, Williams scored seven points on a perfect 3-for-3 from the field, including a pair of huge dunks. He added three rebounds and two assists while playing tough defense in 14 minutes of action.

“It’s what they ask of me - just to be versatile, just to be athletic, just to defend multiple people,” Williams told NBC Sports California. “What I focus on is how I can help this team defensively before anything else.” 

The sample size is small, but through four appearances this season with Sacramento, the 23-year-old wing is producing at a high level and stealing minutes from players on the regular roster. He’s bringing an intensity to both ends of the floor while averaging 8.3 points on 66.7 percent shooting from both the field and the 3-point line.

“It’s hard, I’ll figure out what I want to do here in the rotation wise,” Dave Joerger said. “He comes in and he gives us some pop and I like that both defensively and offensively. He gets a couple of dunks, he gets a couple of cuts. You notice him and he makes an impact in that way.” 

After going undrafted out of Indiana in 2016, the 6-foot-7 small forward has moved from one team to the next looking for a chance to play. Signed originally by the Memphis Grizzlies, Williams is on his fifth team in three seasons, including stops with the Rockets, Knicks and Pelicans. 

“The right opportunity, the right fit, that’s with anybody, that’s everybody, especially people that took the road that I took, being undrafted,” Williams said. “You just get in where you fit in.”

He’s in a roster crunch in Sacramento, but that hasn’t stopped Williams from performing every time he steps on the court. 

As a two-way player, the Kings can use him for up to 45 days before having to make a decision on his future with the team. If he continues to earn rotational minutes and help the team, the decision will only get tougher for the Kings’ brass.

Sacramento currently has 15 players under contract. If they hope to add Williams to the regular roster, another player would have to be traded or waived. Luckily there is time to make a decision.

NBA odds: Where Kings' playoff hopes stand after first NBA restart win

NBA odds: Where Kings' playoff hopes stand after first NBA restart win

So you're telling me there's a chance.

The Kings stumbled out of the gates in the NBA restart, losing their first three games in the Orlando bubble. They bounced back with an impressive 140-125 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, barely keeping their postseason chances alive.

Sacramento's playoff hopes aren't dead. However ...

They're mostly dead.

After defeating the Pelicans, the Kings' playoff odds according to FiveThiryEight stand at a whopping 2 percent. Of all the teams still alive in the Western Conference playoff race, only the San Antonio Spurs (1 percent) currently have worse odds.

[RELATED: Kings minority owner Shaq makes virtual cameo during win]

In order to qualify for a playoff spot, Sacramento would at least have to climb to ninth place in the Western Conference standings while remaining within four games of the eighth seed. The Kings currently sit 2.5 games behind the eighth-place Grizzlies, but currently have three other teams situated between them and Memphis.

The Kings dug themselves quite a hole. It's going to be awfully tough to dig themselves out of it.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Bogdan Bogdanovic's career game carries Kings to first NBA bubble win

Bogdan Bogdanovic's career game carries Kings to first NBA bubble win

De’Aaron Fox is becoming a star in the Orlando bubble, but in order for his team to start winning games, someone else had to step up and give him some help. On Thursday, Bogdan Bogdanovic was that player, scoring a career-high 35 points to help the Kings pick up their first win of the seeding tournament.

In a recent recording of the Purple Talk podcast, Fox mentioned his starting backcourt mate and made a statement that may have struck a chord with the Serbian shooter.

“Sometimes, the player that Bogi is, for him to be a team-first guy, is for him to shoot the ball,” Fox said.

There can be an issue with a player being too unselfish. Bogdanovic is a career 37 percent shooter from long range and one of the more versatile scorers on the Kings’ roster, but he rarely looks for his own shot.

He tries to get everyone else involved and then once the game has settled into a rhythm, he looks to get free himself. Fox has struggled with this issue as well, but since the NBA’s restart, he has gone into attack mode.

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Bogdanovic followed Fox’s lead Thursday, which led to the 140-125 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

After missing his first 14 shots in the Kings' loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, Bogdanovic looked like a man possessed against New Orleans. He started firing away in the first quarter and by the time the first 12 minutes were up, his shooting hand was smoldering.

“I was just maybe a little bit more mentally locked in,” Bogdanovic said. “Before the game against Dallas, I did all of the same things I did today. I didn’t change my routine at all.”

Bogdanovic lit up New Orleans for 19 first-quarter points. The only shot he missed in the opening period was a 50-footer as time expired.

With Bogdanovic on fire, New Orleans made adjustments and the Kings countered. First, they got Harrison Barnes loose in the post. When the Pelicans shifted defensive stalwart Jrue Holiday over to slow Bogdanovic down, he went to Fox and told him to attack.

“Whenever I was open, I was decisive, I took my shot, I scored, I didn’t miss my first couple of shots,” Bogdanovic said. “And then they started trapping me and I saw a lot of space for the big guys and tell them, ‘Hey, now it’s your time.’ And then I told Fox, ‘Hey, Holiday is on me, he’s stop blocking, he’s not helping, so you have all the space now, it’s your time.’ That’s how he got hot.”

Bogdanovic was a flame thrower and once Fox started attacking, it was lights out. The starting backcourt for the Kings pinned 65 points on the Pelicans in their best-combined scoring output of the season.

“We know we have a lot of guys on this team that can put the ball in the basket,” Fox said. “But when you have guys like that and they care about each other, it makes the game easier for others.”

An experienced European player, Bogdanovic helped play coach on the floor. Playing within a team concept is how he learned the game and he’s doing his best to share as much as he can with his teammates.

[RELATED: Fox's development silver lining to Kings' struggles in restart]

The Kings' road to a playoff spot is narrow to say the least, but they had to have the win over the Pelicans to keep any hope alive.

“You’ve got to step up as a man and play the game,” Bogdanovic said. “That’s what we did.”

The Kings don’t have a lot of time to celebrate the victory. They jump back into the fray Friday morning when they play the Brooklyn Nets in their lone back-to-back of the tournament.

While the Kings likely will scoreboard watch all day to see what happens to teams like the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers, the focus must remain on the things they can control.

“We can’t worry about anyone by ourselves,” Fox said. “Knowing that we got this win, it throws us right back in contention for one of the last playoff spots.”

The Kings now are halfway through their schedule in the bubble. Following the Nets, they’ll face the Houston Rockets, the Pelicans for a second time and then finish off their seasons against the first-place Los Angeles Lakers.