Luke Walton

Kings begin search for 2019 NBA Draft steal, work out six prospects

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USATSI

Kings begin search for 2019 NBA Draft steal, work out six prospects

The search for a diamond in the rough has begun in Sacramento. With head coach Luke Walton looking on, the Kings held their first predraft workout Monday.

It won’t be an easy search for Kings general manager Vlade Divac. Sacramento doesn’t have a first round pick in this year’s draft, although the Kings own three second-round selections: Nos. 40, 47 and 60 overall.

NBC Sports California confirmed that Stockton Kings head coach Ty Ellis and player development coach Bobby Jackson helped run the six-man workout. On Monday, ABC 10's Sean Cunningham reported that no new staff members conducted the workout.

Houston guard Armoni Brooks was a late addition to the group Monday, as he most likely tests the draft waters prior returning to college for his senior season. At 6-foot-3, 196 pounds, Brooks improved in each of his first three seasons at the NCAA level. He posted 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and made 39 percent of his 3-point shots this season.

“Everytime you come to one of these workouts, we’re all really good players,” Brooks told reporters at the Kings facility (via ABC 10). “You’ve just got to find a way to impact the game in little ways - defense, rebounding, just doing the little things to separate yourself.”

Icelandic guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson is an intriguing prospect. Standing 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, he stuffed the stat sheet in his junior season at Davidson and posted 16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He had a down shooting year from distance, hitting just 35.3 percent from 3-point range. But he shot 40.6 percent a year prior, so there is room for growth.

Despite growing up overseas, Gudmundsson has watched plenty of NBA games and even knows a little about the Kings.

“This year I feel like it was kind of their rising year,” Gudmundsson told reporters Monday. “I feel like they’re coming up, and I feel like next year is going to be a playoff team and they’ve got a bright future ahead of them.”

Kansas State small forward Xavier Sneed matched up with BYU's Yoeli Childs in the workout. Sneed posted modest numbers as a junior and is undersized for a three. Childs, meanwhile, averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds in his third college season.

“It’s awesome,” Childs told reporters Monday in Sacramento about the pre-draft process. “It’s so much fun. You’re so close to living the dream that you’ve had your whole life. I really try to not take a single moment for granted. I’m really feel just blessed to be here.”

Reggie Perry from Mississippi State and Kevin Samuels out of TCU provided the post play. Perry is the youngest of the lot at just 19 years old. He averaged 9.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his lone NCAA season.

Samuels, 21, was the big body. Measuring in at 6-foot-11, 250 pounds, the Horned Frogs center posted a modest 7.4 points and 6.9 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game this season.

[RELATED: Ex-King Labissiere learning from bench in Blazers' run]

Perry is the only player from the current group who was invited to the NBA Combine in Chicago. None of the six prospects are currently listed on most two-round mock drafts, but plenty can change in the next few weeks.

This is only the beginning for Sacramento. The Kings likely will hold multiple workouts like this over the next month while they build up to the NBA draft June 20 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. 

Kings season in review: Harry Giles makes impact after slow start as rookie

Kings season in review: Harry Giles makes impact after slow start as rookie

Talent and charisma ooze out of rookie Harry Giles. After sitting out all but 300 minutes over the previous three years, the 21-year-old big finally made his debut this season for the Sacramento Kings.

The early reviews weren’t great. Giles struggled to settle in during the first few months of the season and it was hard for coach Dave Joerger and his staff to keep him on the floor. He picked up fouls at an alarming rate, turned the ball over and forced shots on the offensive end.

After two trips to the G League, Giles finally found his sea legs and showed flashes of what makes him such an intriguing prospect.

The up and down season make a deep dive into the statistic difficult, but there is still plenty to glean from Giles’ 58-game rookie campaign.

Offense

Stats: 7.0 points, 1.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds, .5 steals, 50.3% FG, 14.1 min

Is it too kind to just throw away the first three months of the season when considering Giles’ initial season in the league? It’s really the only option we have when breaking down an 820-minute sample size.

Once Joerger turned to Giles off the bench for consistent playing time, he found a capable passer and offensive cog. Giles posted the fourth-highest usage rate on the team, behind De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley. Of the regulars, only Fox, Yogi Ferrell and Bogdan Bogdanovic posted a higher assist rate than the rookie big.

In the 14 games Giles suited up for following the All-Star break, he posted 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 18.1 minutes per game. He averaged a plus 7.7 points per game in the plus/minus category over that stretch.

Giles has an assortment of offensive moves. He hit 39.3 percent on jumpers from 10-16 feet. When his jumper started falling and the defense moved closer, he was able to show flashes off the dribble. And when the Kings needed a scorer in the block, the former high school star stepped forward, hitting 68.6 percent at the rim.

When Marvin Bagley missed time due to injury, Giles took over for stretches during games. He has the potential to become a solid two-way player and a his above average passing skills for a big man open up plenty of new play options in the Kings’ offensive scheme.

Defense

Tough and physical, Giles has the potential to develop into an elite defender. He brings an attitude to the floor, which on occasion gets him in trouble, but it’s easier to adjust a flame than it is to light one.

There were times where Giles was pushed around in the block by bigger players, but he has a frame that can take plenty of additional muscle. There were also games where Giles lacked explosiveness, but again, he barely stepped on a court for three years.

Like fellow rookie Bagley, Giles struggled with schemes, but he made adjustments as he became familiar with the NBA game. He allowed a plus 0.2 percent field goal against overall, but a negative 0.4 inside of six feet, a negative 0.6 inside of 10 feet and a negative 0.6 greater than 15 feet.

As the season pushed on, Giles improved dramatically. He stopped picking up cheap fouls and he improved as a team defender. He even posted a solid plus 0.2 percent against on 3-point shooters and showed an ability to stay in front of multiple types of player.

Per 36 minutes, Giles averaged 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He needs to improve on the defensive glass, but as he becomes stronger and more comfortable at the NBA level, there is potential for massive improvement.

A focal leader on the floor, Giles has the potential to develop into a defensive anchor for Sacramento.

Overall

A late season thigh bruise cost Giles time late in the season, but all things considered, it was an impressive start by the former Duke Blue Devil.

Whether the Kings believe he is a long-term starter or a rotational player off Luke Walton’s bench is still unknown. The team’s approach to free agency will likely tell a lot about Giles’ future in Sacramento.

[RELATED: Giles thrilled he survived rookie season without setbacks]

It’s clear Giles needs to get stronger if he is going to play the bulk of his minutes at the five. He has good size and great awareness, but he missed a ton of development time as a young player and patience is needed.

Off the court, the 6-foot-10 big already has plenty of fans within the walls of Golden 1 Center. He brings a charisma and confidence that you don’t often find in a player this age. If he can stay healthy, Giles looks like a long-term contributor in Sacramento.

Kings season in review: Breaking down Buddy Hield's stellar third year

Kings season in review: Breaking down Buddy Hield's stellar third year

The Kings came into the 2018-19 season with question marks all over the court. They came out of it with a defined starting backcourt of De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, and plenty more to build around.

After sputtering in his second NBA season, Hield stepped into the starting lineup after a late summer injury to Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Bahamian-born shooting guard took advantage of the opportunity and cemented himself as one of the team’s budding young core.

Hield led Sacramento in scoring on the season and set a new franchise record for made 3-pointers. He hit big-money shots and almost single handedly won multiple games for the Kings with his ability to score in bunches.

Offense

Stats: 20.7 points, 2.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds, .7 steals, 45.6% FG, 42.7% 3pt, 31.9 min

Hield came into the league a scorer. In Year 3, he joined elite company with his long-range shooting and established himself as one of the best marksman in the game.

The third-year guard set a new NBA record for most 3-pointers hit in the first three years of a career with 602, surpassing Damian Lillard’s mark of 599. He increased his makes from 176 last season to 278 this year while only dropping .04 percent off his shooting accuracy.  

In addition to the bump in long-range shooting, Hield helped himself in a couple of crucial areas. He increased his shots at the rim from 149 last season to 258 this year, while improving his field-goal percentage on those attempts by four percent. Plenty of these shots came in transition as the Kings pushed the tempo and Hield got out on the break.

Hield also increased his free throw attempts from one per game last season to 2.4 per game this year. This is an area that Hield could continue to improve on, which could push his scoring average even higher from the team-high 20.7 he averaged this season.

If there is one weakness in his offensive game, it’s in the 3 to 10-foot range. Hield relies heavily on the step-back jumper, instead of drawing contact or using a floater in the lane. He shot just 24 percent from this range on 121 attempts.

Hield has come back after each summer an improved player and there is no reason to believe he won’t do the same as he enters a contract year.

Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, Hield made strides, but he still needs work as both an on ball and team defender.

Like Fox, Hield did a nice job defending the 3-point line and held his own outside of 15 feet. He limited his opponents to 34.4 percent from long range, 1.6 percent below the league average of 36 percent. On mid-range shots, Hield limited his opponent to -.2 percent, which means he was at least close to average.

Hield shaved 1.5 percentage off his overall field goal percentage against from last season. On two-point shots, he went from a positive 6.1 percent to a positive 3.7 percent this season, which is a huge improvement. Clearly there is more room to grow.

In addition to the improvements in field goal percentage against, Hield posted career highs in both offensive and defensive rebounding.

On the downside, his steal numbers slipped from 1.5 per 36 minutes a season ago to just 0.8 per 36 this season. This is an issue, although many of Hield’s steals came as a defensive gambler last year. He needs to play the passing lanes better and keep his head on a swivel.

Like Fox, Hield would greatly be aided by defensive improvements around him. A rim protector and more experience from the bigs would help everyone’s numbers.

Overall

Hield is a young 26-year-old player and there is still so much room for growth. He can shoot one or two more 3-pointers per game. He could figure out how to draw more fouls. He certainly still has room to develop as a facilitator and defensive player.

Even if he doesn’t improve in these areas, the Kings still have a top 10 shooting guard by most metrics and he’s under team control for the next two seasons at a minimum, and perhaps much longer.

[RELATED: Hield shares surprising origin story about his nickname]

Luke Walton’s Lakers played at a faster pace than the Kings did last season and they did so without a pure shooter like Hield. Expect to see the combination of Fox and Hield running and gunning at an alarming pace during the 2019-20 campaign.  

Don’t expect another 7.2 points per game increase next season, but Hield is an extremely hard worker and he has a desire to improve. He’s also focused on breaking the franchise’s 13-season playoff curse.