De'Aaron Fox

Kings notes: De'Aaron Fox's turnovers sting in road loss to Grizzlies

Kings notes: De'Aaron Fox's turnovers sting in road loss to Grizzlies

Welcome to the Western Conference. Almost every night you step on the court, there is a seasoned team waiting to give you a fight and, on plenty of nights, hand you a loss.

The Sacramento Kings gave the Memphis Grizzlies a run for their money Friday night at FedEx Forum, but in the end, the veteran team forced the style of play to come away with the 112-104 win.

Here are six notes as the Kings slipped to 4-4 on the road and 8-7 overall on the season.

Fox fumbles

De’Aaron Fox was the Kings’ star of the night, but he struggled with turnovers. The 20-year-old point guard gave the ball away six times overall, but three of those mistakes came in the fourth quarter while Sacramento was trying to rally.

These nights happen. Fox still managed to score 23 points and shoot 8 of 17 from the field while handing out 10 assists and grabbing four rebounds. This was Fox’s fourth double-double on the season and the eighth time he has scored 20 points or more in a game.

The Minus Touch

Some nights the stats aren’t kind. On paper, Buddy Hield didn’t have a bad night, unless you glance at the plus/minus category.

Hield scored 16 points, shot 6 of 12 from the field, and had three assists, four rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes of play. But he also posted a team-worse -23 in plus/minus.

Finding his game

Bogdan Bogdanovic continues to fight his way through the medical staff's minutes restriction. He played 24 minutes in Memphis, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, 2 of 4 from long range.

As of Monday, the second-year wing planned on playing both games of the back-to-back, which would be a huge step in his return from knee issues.

Breaking the Shump slump

Known more for his defensive prowess, veteran Iman Shumpert has scored in double figures only once over his last previous eight games. Against the Grizz, he let it fly, hitting 3 of 6 from deep on his way to 12 points before fouling out.

The Kings have plenty of other scorers to rely on, but it’s nice to get some production from the small forward position on occasion.

Out-muscled on the blocks

Marc Gasol and Jaren Jackson did major damage against Willie Cauley-Stein, Nemanja Bjelica, Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles. The Memphis duo torched Sacramento’s front line for a combined 46 points and 21 rebounds in the Grizzlies' win.

As a group, the Kings' bigs need to figure out how to slow teams that play with their back to the basket.

No-action Jackson

After averaging 22.2 minutes over the Kings’ first 14 games, Justin Jackson drew the dreaded “Did Not Play -- Coach’s Decision” against the Grizzlies.

Jackson has struggled with his consistency all season, and with Bogdanovic back in the rotation, minutes are getting tighter at the two and the three. Troy Williams ate any extra time that might have gone Jackson’s way, finishing with eight points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes of action.

 

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 112-104 loss to Grizzlies

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 112-104 loss to Grizzlies

BOX SCORE

A game of runs. The Sacramento Kings fell behind early Friday evening in Memphis and recovered. They fell behind again in the second half, but kept charging.

In the end, the Kings couldn’t get the big shot to fall when they needed it and the Grizzlies did just enough to pull out the 112-104 victory.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings stumble on the road in Memphis and fall to 8-7 on the season.   

Quick on quick

The battle at the point guard position was fun to watch. There isn’t a player in the league that can stick with De’Aaron Fox stride for stride, but Mike Conley Jr. is close. 

Fox finished the game with 23 points on 8-for-17 shooting and added 10 assists and four rebounds in the loss. He was a difference-maker on the court, like he has been all season long.

Conley knows how to run the show in Memphis. The veteran guard countered with a 19-point, six-assist performance as the Grizzlies came away with the win.   

Buddy and Bogi

Fox is the ring leader, but Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic are crucial to the future of the Kings. The trio is still trying to get comfortable together after Bogdanovic missed the first 10 games with a knee issue. 

Hield hit 6-of-12 from the field for 16 points in 27 minutes and Bogdanovic added 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting. 

Both were on the bench late in the game when the Kings made a late charge, which won’t likely be the case on most nights. 

Show them what they passed on

Sacramento had an opportunity to draft Jaren Jackson Jr. with the second overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, but chose Marvin Bagley III instead. 

With JaMychal Green sidelined with an injury, the 19-year-old rookie is getting a major opportunity to shine early in his rookie season. Against Sacramento, he went to work early on and did major damage.

Jackson posted a career-high 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting and added six rebounds, four steals and two blocks. He’s active and the Kings struggled to contain him in the post.

 

Kings should take long look at changing their plans for 2018-19 season

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Kings should take long look at changing their plans for 2018-19 season

The Philadelphia 76ers call it “The Process.” Others call it a rebuild or asset collecting. Some might even call it tanking.

For more than a decade, the Sacramento Kings have been on a perpetual road to nowhere, gambling on the NBA draft and, more often than not, coming up empty. 

Excuse the sample size, but things appear to be turning in Sacramento’s favor.

Four years in, Willie Cauley-Stein looks like a ball player. The acquisition of Bogdan Bogdanovic's draft rights is paying off. Buddy Hield has become more than just a scorer, and De’Aaron Fox looks like a top-tier player

The Kings appear to have a core group of young players to build around, and we haven’t even mentioned rookies Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles III, or young players with potential, such as Justin Jackson, Frank Mason and Skal Labissiere.

At 8-6, there is a buzz around the Kings for the first time in years, and it’s probably time to start looking long and hard at the short-term and long-term plan for this franchise.

[RELATED: In Year 3, Kings have unleashed Buddy Hield into way more than a scorer]

The initial idea coming into the season was to leverage the team’s $11 million in salary-cap space and bevy of expiring contracts. Sacramento planned to facilitate transactions for other teams around the league with the hopes of replacing the 2019 draft pick the Kings lost via trade.  

Sacramento was mentioned in deals surrounding Jimmy Butler, but only as a third team willing to take on a contract. The Kings can wait for another deal like that to materialize and potentially land a non-lottery level draft selection in exchange for a bloated contract. 

It’s a perfectly reasonable plan coming into the season, but at some point, Vlade Divac and his group might need to reconsider their approach.

With the team playing well and the roster still incomplete, this might be a season when the Kings consider buying instead of selling.

There are high-budget teams around the league that are struggling and on the hook for major tax bills. There also are teams around the NBA looking to clear space for next summer’s bonanza where nearly half the league can become free agents.

The Kings can sit on their nest egg. They have upwards of $60 million in cap space come July 1, and they can dip their toes into free agency like the other 20-plus teams around the league with money. 

Or they can go out, leverage their position as the only franchise in the league with cap space, and start looking for the right deal to help this team win more games now. What is the right deal? That’s complicated. 

Any trade should involve a player who is on the same age arc as the majority of the current roster. Whether that player is locked into a long-term contract or still is working through their rookie scale deal, it shouldn’t matter to the Kings. 

These types of players come at a premium, and the Kings likely will have to absorb a substantial additional contract. 

[RELATED: Kings’ De'Aaron Fox shares reason behind his improved 3-point shooting]

December 15 is a major date to watch in the NBA. It’s the point in the season when players who were signed over the summer are allowed to be traded, and it usually sparks some movement around league. 

It’s also the point when most teams have an understanding of who and what they are in regards to the standings. A team that came in with high expectations and spent accordingly during the offseason might be willing to chat if their season has gone sideways. 

The Kings are in a rare position. They have a ton of power around the league as the only team with any measure of cap space. They can clear up even more room by waiving veteran players on expiring deals or adding them in a package while taking back longer-term contracts. 

The plan to acquire future assets made sense coming into the season, but at this point, the Kings should look long and hard at changing their stance and getting coach Dave Joerger and his squad a piece or two to help improve the club.