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.

Kings notes: Crashing the glass proving to be a key to success

Kings notes: Crashing the glass proving to be a key to success

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings have the Thunder’s number. For the second time this season, Sacramento took down OKC, this time by a final of 117-113.

The Kings blew a 19-point first half lead, but recovered with a 7-0 lead to start the fourth. The Thunder drew to within two points in the final 10 seconds, but De’Aaron Fox made his free throws when it mattered to help put the Kings over the top.

Here are six notes as the Kings jump back over .500 on the season at 9-8.

Iman on a mission

For the second time this season, Iman Shumpert posted huge numbers against the Thunder. The veteran wing looked like he was on his way to a new career-high when he dropped 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting before the intermission. 

Shumpert took just three shots after the break, missing all three. 

Buddy to the rescue

The game got a little too close for comfort in the fourth quarter, but then Buddy Hield started launching. Hield scored 11 of his team-high 25 points in the final frame, including three makes from long range. The third-year guard loves the big moment and the Kings love when he comes through in the clutch.

Earning time

Marvin Bagley has had his ups and downs through the first month of the season, but he showed up in the win over the Thunder. After struggling early, Bagley scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and posted his first career double-double when he added 13 rebounds. 

The 19-year-old was active on both ends of the court, adding three blocks to his stat line. Coach Dave Joerger stuck with him late, allowing him to play all but 18 seconds of the final quarter.

The struggle is real

Fox hasn’t had many setbacks this season, but he struggled to put the ball in the hole against OKC. Fox finished the game with six points on 1-of-10 shooting. He managed to dish out 13 assists and hit a pair of huge free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining to ice the game. 

Playing into shape

Bogdan Bogdanovic posted another solid performance in his sixth game back from injury. With Hield continuing to get the start, Bogdanovic led the second unit, scoring 16 points to go with five rebounds and three assists. There will be a point where Joerger has to make a decision on whether to put Bogdanovic back in the starting lineup, but for now, he is doing a nice job of stabilizing the reserves. 

Crashing the glass

The Kings grabbed a season-high 59 rebounds in the win. Willie Cauley-Stein led the way with 14 boards, plenty of other players helped out. Sacramento is now 6-1 on the season when they outrebound their opponent. The Kings also set a new season-high in 3-point makes with 16 and attempts with 38.

Why Kings' win over the Thunder meant so much to coach Dave Joerger

Why Kings' win over the Thunder meant so much to coach Dave Joerger

SACRAMENTO -- How do you stop the noise? You go out and win another game. 

The Kings continued their hot start Monday night at Golden 1 Center, surviving a rough third quarter to come away with a 117-113 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The win snapped a two-game skid, and propelled the Kings back over .500.

Caught in a media storm over his future with the club over the last 48 hours, Kings fans gave embattled coach Dave Joerger a loud ovation before the start of the game. 

“We really care about our fans, we’ve got great fans, I love it here, I love listening to the ovation tonight - that was really cool,” Joerger said after the win Monday. “And to get the win over a very, very good team tonight is really gratifying.”

It’s not the situation that anyone wants to be in. Despite assurances that his job was never in jeopardy, the stress of hearing your name brought up in regards to a potential coaching change is never easy. Joerger took the chaotic situation to heart.

His young team did their best to block out anything coming from beyond the walls of the locker room.

“Every game is important for us, we just try to stay together, don’t listen to the outside and nothing really matters, except everybody on this team,” rookie big man Marvin Bagley III said. “Going out and winning, that’s the main goal for us is to win every game we step on the floor and play and that’s all that matters.”

One of the few veterans on the squad, guard Iman Shumpert, has seen just about everything in his eight-year career. After putting up 23 points on the night, he was feeling good and tried to lighten the mood in the locker room.

“I’ve been a part of all type of rumors,” Shumpert said. “When I was with the Knicks, I got traded for three years before I actually got traded. I don’t know how accurate your guys' information is sometimes.”

Joerger survived the ordeal, and may have even come out stronger. His team is playing a fun brand of basketball, and the fans are engaged and ready to back him.

No one expected the Kings to sit at 9-8 through 17 games. They took their first negative hit from the outside, and bounced back for a big win. There is a resiliency to this group that is refreshing. They’ll have another test come Wednesday when they fly to Utah to face another playoff contender in the Jazz.