Youth Movement: Who's at the top of Kings' young core with the season ending?
Stock up, stock down
It’s a youth movement in Sacramento. Dave Joerger has turned to his young core over the second half of the season. Some players are responding to the challenge, others are fading into obscurity.
We’ll track the young guys and rank their development as the regular season winds down.
The rookie wall is real, so are injuries. There are players rising and falling up and down the ranks and we even have a new player to add to the mix. Here is a look at where they currently stand with three games remaining in the 2017-18 Kings season.
9. Bruno Caboclo (Trending down)
Previous Rank: 8
Season Stats: 2.4 points, .5 assists, 1.8 rebounds, .3 steals, 9 min
Post All-Star Stats: 2.9 points, .4 assists, 2.1 rebounds, .5 steals, 10.2 min
Caboclo has an NBA body, but after four seasons of strictly G-League action, he isn’t ready for NBA action yet. The Kings have had very few practices since acquiring the 22-year-old forward. He’s a free agent at the end of the season and with so many young players on the Kings’ roster, Caboclo’s path to the NBA is likely in another city.
8. Nigel Hayes (Trending Up)
Previous Rank: N/A
Season Stats: 2.3 points, .8 assists, .8 rebounds, .2 blocks, 27.8% FG, 10 min
With Kings: 2.5 points, 1.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds, .5 blocks, 15.4% FG, 21.5 min
The Kings made a surprising late season addition when they inked Hayes to a two-year deal. His money for next season is non-guaranteed, but the signing keeps the 6-foot-8, 254-pound combo forward in Sacramento through the summer and into training camp. He’s big, strong and very versatile and you have to love the 7-foot-3 wingspan. He’s struggled with his shooting in two games with Sacramento, but he’s also played a combined 43 minutes compared to the 92 total minutes over nine games Caboclo has played with the Kings.
7. Justin Jackson (trending even)
Previous rank: 7
Season Stats: 6.8 points, 1.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds, .4 steals, 31.6% 3-pt FG, 21.7 min
Post All-Star Stats: 8.1 points, 1.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds, .5 steals, 33.3% 3-pt GF, 26.2 min
Very few rookies have been given the long leash that Jackson has gotten. He’s started 38 games for Sacramento, including the last 32. He had a breakout performance against the Suns, but he needs to do a better job of hitting open shots and filling the stat sheet. All of the young players need to work on their strength and conditioning in the offseason, but Jackson needs to hit the weight room hard to compete at the three.
6. Frank Mason (trending even)
Previous rank: 6
Season Stats: 8.0 points, 2.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds, .7 steals, 35.7% 3-pt FG, 19.1 min
Post All-Star Stats: 8.5 points, 2.8 assists, 3.0 rebounds, .9 steals, 29.3% 3-pt FG, 19.7 min
Mason hasn’t been 100 percent himself since returning from injury. He’s built like a tank, but making the adjustment to the NBA’s length and athleticism has taken time. As he earns his place in the league, the former Kansas star will eventually get the respect from the officials that he deserves. Until then, he needs to continue to attack the rim and know his outs.
5. Skal Labissiere (trending down)
Previous rank: 4
Season Stats: 8.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, .8 blocks, 44.8% FG, 20.7 min
Post All-Star Stats: 10.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 blocks, 42.2% FG, 27 min
The injuries continue to pile up for Labissiere. He’s missed time this season with a shoulder, hip and now ankle injury. He’s showed flashes of improvement in year two, but he has a huge summer in front of him. He needs to come back bigger and stronger, but more importantly, he needs to play a lot of basketball.
4. De’Aaron Fox (trending down)
Previous rank: 3
Season Stats: 11.4 points, 4.4 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 30.3% 3-pt FG, 27.5 min
Post All-Star Stats: 11.8 points, 4.6 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 25.5% 3-pt FG, 28.4 min
For a rookie, 82 games is a long season. Fox says his body feels good, but mentally, it’s very clear that the 20-year-old is struggling to finish strong. He continues to knock down big shots, but his defense has been hit and mostly miss in the final two months of the season. He has a clear idea of what he needs to work on in the offseason and Sacramento is expecting big things out of their rookie point guard next season.
3. Willie Cauley-Stein (trending up)
Previous rank: 5
Season Stats: 12.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steal, 49.5 FG, 27.8 min
Post All-Star Stats: 12.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 48.7 FG, 28.9 min
It took a bit of time for Cauley-Stein to return to form after missing a stretch with a back injury. He’s healthy now and he’s strung together six games with double figure scoring. On the down side, the 7-footer hasn’t recorded a double-double since Feb. 27 and he has just two double-digit rebounding performances in his last 27 games.
2. Bogdan Bogdanovic (trending up)
Previous rank: 2
Season Stats: 11.9 points, 3.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, .9 steals, 40.2% 3-pt FG, 27.9 min
Post All-Star Stats: 13.1 points, 3.5 assists, 3.2 rebounds, .7 steals, 40.6% 3-pt FG, 29 min
Fatigue started to set in for Bogdanovic in early March, but he’s fought through and is finishing strong. He has the best feel for the game out of all the Kings’ young players. He’s looking forward to taking some time off and allowing his body to heal following the season, but Sacramento stumbled on a gold mine when they acquired the rights to Bogdanovic on draft night in 2016.
1. Buddy Hield (trending up)
Previous rank: 1
Season Stats: 13.4 points, 1.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 42.9% 3-pt FG, 25.1 min
Post All-Star Stats: 15.8 points, 2.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 43.7% 3-pt FG, 28.6 min
Hield is turning heads around the team with his performance down the stretch. He’s an incredibly hard worker and he’s showing improvements in his ability to create for others and on the defensive end. It’s likely that his best role as an NBA player is coming off the bench, but he’s owned it and looks like a really good six-man going forward.