Kings

Why injured Kings should give Harry Giles a look to boost offense

Why injured Kings should give Harry Giles a look to boost offense

Injuries are part of the game, but the Kings are feeling the burn early in the 2019-20 season. During the Kings' 116-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, coach Luke Walton was forced to go young early and often.

Justin James flashed his athleticism and unbridled energy. Wenyen Gabriel had a nice moment or two and DaQuan Jeffries scored his first NBA bucket.

There was also a Harry Giles sighting, which came way too late in the game.

Giles is lost in the shuffle of a heavy front line. Richaun Holmes has been an incredible find for Sacramento. Nemanja Bjelica is playing extremely well, the Brooklyn game being an outlier.

Harrison Barnes is playing minutes at the four, and the Kings also invested heavily in Dewayne Dedmon during the offseason.

So far, Dedmon has been a tremendous disappointment for Sacramento. He’s shooting just 37.5 percent from the field, in large part due to his 21.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

The advanced numbers are just as bad for the 30-year-old center. He has posted an offensive rating of 95 and a defensive rating of 107.2 for a net rating of negative-12.2. Dedmon’s assist percentage is down and his turnover percentage is sky-high. And if you are a fan of player efficiency rating (PER), Dedmon’s has gone from 16 last season to just 7.1 this year.

In all fairness, Dedmon was supposed to pair with Marvin Bagley as an inside-outside combo, but that lasted all of one game before Bagley broke his thumb.

Walton also has been forced to get creative with De’Aaron Fox’s long-term absence due to an ankle sprain. Bagley should be back on the court in a week or so, but Fox is likely out of action until after the New Year.

Already trying to reinvent the Kings' system of play, Walton has done a very nice job of pushing the right buttons and also making tough decisions.

Replacing Dedmon with Holmes isn’t one of those moves that usually goes over well with a front office. Holmes signed a two-year, $10 million deal in the offseason, which pales in comparison to the three-year, $40 million Dedmon received.

But Walton made the move and hasn’t looked back. Since joining the starting lineup 10 games ago, Holmes is averaging 29.3 minutes a night and posting 11.9 points, nine rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

All of this brings us back to Giles.

Vlade Divac made a tough decision not to pick up the fourth year of Giles’ rookie-scale contract in late October. He had his reasons for the move, but the Kings’ general manager also hasn’t closed the door on the 21-year-old big.

When Walton inserted Giles into the lineup in the second half against the Nets, the dynamic on the floor instantly changed. Despite playing limited minutes over the last four years, Giles sees the floor in a way that Holmes and Dedmon can’t.

Giles doesn’t have Holmes’ athleticism or understanding of the pick-and-roll game. He also doesn’t have Dedmon’s shooting ability or experience. But when injuries hit and you need a player you can run your entire offense through in the high post, Giles is uniquely qualified on the Kings’ roster.

Against Brooklyn, Giles made passes that no other Sacramento big could. The movement and flow of the team completely changed. Despite playing just 28 minutes on the season coming into Friday, Giles called for the ball and directed his teammates all over the court.

Giles missed training camp with knee soreness. He also sat for the first eight games while getting back into game shape. At this point, he still is searching for his rhythm, but he needs to be on the court to work through the kinks.

[RELATED: Kings rookie James provides silver lining in blowout loss]

Walton is still learning his players and trying to fit all the pieces together, but it might be time to turn to Giles for his reserve minutes at the five. Giles will make mistakes. He’ll force an occasional shot. He’ll pick up a few fouls that frustrate you. He’ll try to thread the needle on a pass that has no chance.

But Giles will also make a big defensive play, grab a rebound, hit a 20-foot jumper, attack a player like De’Andre Jordan in the post, bring toughness to the team and open the spacing back up with Fox on the shelf.

If the goal is to win, you have to go with the nine or 10 players that give you the best chance. It’s probably time to see if Giles fits into that group.

Harry Giles surprises Kings fan upset by coronavirus postponement game

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Harry Giles surprises Kings fan upset by coronavirus postponement game

On March 11, the Kings suspended their upcoming game at Golden 1 Center against the New Orleans Pelicans due to precautionary measures from the coronavirus pandemic.

This was right after the NBA announced the season would be suspended indefinitely after Jazz center Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test earlier that night. Still, it made an immediate impact, especially on one young fan.

Cameras caught a devastated girl crying in the stands after the announcement. The Kings, and Harry Giles wanted to apologize for the cancellation of the game with a heartfelt message to Sophie and her brother.

“I just wanted to tell you guys we apologize for the unfortunate situation that happened on March 11 with the game getting canceled, but I have a surprise for you,” Giles said. 

Sophie and her brother were sitting on the couch watching the video from Giles and were invited personally by the Kings’ forward whenever the season was to come back.

Sophie said thank you to Giles as she jumped on the couch sporting Kings gear. 

This isn’t the first time Giles paid back to Kings fans.

[RELATED: De'Aaron Fox cuts hair during NBA hiatus]

He also helped a couple plan a wedding. Well, he certainly played a big part. The groom actually sported a Giles’ jersey at the altar after a Twitter request of 10,000 retweets

Giles continues to be a man of the people. 

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Why Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic is prepared for NBA games without fans

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Why Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic is prepared for NBA games without fans

There is no guarantee that the NBA will be able to finish the 2019-20 season amidst the coronavirus pandemic. If they are able to pull off the tall task, there is a very good chance that the league will start out playing in empty buildings to ensure player and fan safety.

It is a difficult thought. The sound of sneakers squeaking and the ball bouncing, but nothing else. A referee’s whistle could be heard blocks away without 17,000-plus cheering bodies to dampen the noise. 

From the shot clock buzzer to the sound of Luke Walton’s baritone voice bellowing out commands, it’s all very strange to imagine. 

While the experience would be different for people on the outside looking in, this is how many NBA players grew up with the game. They started playing in front of parents at rec league games, but the real work came in their driveways, at local parks and in gymnasiums where they practice in front of a coach with a whistle.

On the latest edition of the Purple Talk Podcast, we caught up with Kings starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, and one of the topics of discussion was the idea of playing without fans. 

“I played in Serbia without fans and we were fighting,” Bogdanovic said. “So I got used to it a little bit.”

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Serbia or New Orleans or the Bahamas, it doesn’t really matter. It wasn’t until college that most of these players truly had the experience of playing in front of a packed house. It might take a game or two to get used to, but that might be the reality facing all professional sports in the near future. 

“It will be weird for sure,” Bogdanovic added. “It will feel like a practice game, not a real game.”

While the Kings are in the middle of a 13-season playoff drought, that doesn’t mean that fans aren’t still flooding into Golden 1 Center every game. Known as one of the most loyal and loud fanbases, Kings fans have an ability to energize the building. 

[RELATED: Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting on neighbor's hoop during NBA shutdown]

For Bogdanovic, he equated the feeling to being in a battle. 

“The fans are something that brings that feeling like you are in a gladiator arena,” Bogdanovic said. “Imagine two gladiators fighting, or more, without fans. It would be boring.”

Bogdanovic is hoping to return to the court as soon as the league allows it, but he also has a strong perspective. He wants the fans to stay safe and if that means they have to watch the game through the television set while the team plays in an empty arena, then he understands.

We still are at least a month or more away from knowing what might happen this season, but all options are on the table. With any luck, there will be basketball, but what that might look like is a long way from being determined.