Marvin Bagley III

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 124-110 win vs. Melbourne United

kingstakeawaysusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 124-110 win vs. Melbourne United

SACRAMENTO -- Taking care of business. 
 
The Kings toyed with Melbourne United early Wednesday night, but they pulled away in the third quarter and coasted for a comfortable 124-110 victory over the NBL team.
 
Despite missing quite a few regulars, four of the Kings’ five starters scored in double figures, including big nights from Marvin Bagley and Yogi Ferrell. 
 
Chris Goulding led Melbourne with 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting from long range. Melo Triple chipped in 20 points and six assists, and big man Shawn Long posted a 15-point, 15-rebound double-double in the loss.
 
Here are three takeaways as the Kings finished off the preseason with a 3-2 record.

Marvelous Marvin

With plenty of his teammates taking the evening off, Bagley had a bright green light to let it fly. The second-year big man didn’t disappoint.
 
In 27 minutes of action, the Kings’ starting power forward finished with 31 points on 12-for-17 shooting. He also hit the glass for 14 rebounds and picked up three steals and a block.
 
This wasn’t exactly NBA competition, but Bagley came out strong and took advantage. Bagley finished off the preseason with three straight double-doubles. 

Going Deeeeeeep 

The Kings’ injury list looked longer than a weekend Costco receipt. De’Aaron Fox? Out. Cory Joseph and Trevor Ariza? Out and out. Harry Giles, Tyler Ulis, Tyler Lydon and Hollis Thompson? Out, out, out and out.
 
Coach Luke Walton even made a game-time decision to rest both Dewayne Dedmon and Bogdan Bogdanovic, leaving him with just 10 able bodies.
 
Kyle Guy, Justin James, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan all played major minutes off the bench for Sacramento, especially in the second half when the Kings pulled away. 

[RELATED: Hield, Kings reportedly $20M apart in contract talks]

The Forgotten Man

When Sacramento added Joseph in free agency to back up Fox, it looked like bad news for Ferrell. With Joseph sidelined, Ferrell has made his minutes count throughout the preseason and did so again Wednesday.
 
Starting for Fox, Ferrell scored 24 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from 3-point range. He added six assists and two steals in 38 minutes.
 
In five preseason games, Ferrell averaged 12.6 points per game for Sacramento, and he scored in double figures in each of the last four games. He has shown the ability to score in bunches when called upon, and that might come in handy this season for the Kings.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in dominant preseason win vs. Jazz

hieldtakeawaysusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Kings takeaways: What we learned in dominant preseason win vs. Jazz

BOX SCORE

Every game is an opportunity to get better. On Monday night in Salt Lake City, the Kings got better.

Sacramento pushed the tempo early and often and ran the Utah Jazz off the court in a 128-115 win. The Kings scored 78 points in a wild first half of action to take a big lead after 24 minutes. 

Donovan Mitchell led the way for Utah, scoring 22 points in 28 minutes. Rudy Gobert added 17 points and six rebounds, but the Jazz’s duo weren’t nearly enough to keep up with the high-powered Kings. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings improved to .500 this preseason.

Buddy and Bags

The Kings can flat-out score the ball, which the Jazz were reminded of on their home court. While six Sacramento players scored in double figures, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley stood out.

Hield used a variety of moves to create space and hit open jumpers. He finished with 23 points on 9-for-17 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Hield also chipped in five assists and grabbed three rebounds in the win. 

With Hield launching from the perimeter, Bagley went to work inside. The 20-year-old power forward posted a second straight double-double, scoring 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and two blocks.

Plan C

De'Aaron Fox is the Kings' "Plan A" at point guard, while veteran Cory Joseph is "Plan B." With Joseph missing his third straight game with a calf injury and Fox sidelined with a sore back in the third quarter, coach Luke Walton might have revealed Sacramento's "Plan C" -- and it wasn't Yogi Ferrell.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Kings’ Swiss army knife, stepped in alongside Hield and went to work. Bogdanovic initially put his scoring on hold and set up his teammates for a team-high eight assists in 28 minutes of action. 

The Kings’ sixth-man got going late to chip in 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting, and he grabbed five rebounds to add to the big night.

[RELATED: Kings' switching defense dependent on better communication]

Switch

While the offense outburst was impressive from the Kings, the focus continues to be on the defensive end. After installing a base defense in the opening days of camp, Walton and his staff began integrating some switching principles over the last few days.

Due to their size, athleticism and shooting ability, the Jazz is a difficult team to switch on. That didn’t stop the Kings from trying it at times Monday. 

The Jazz managed to score 115 points on the Kings while shooting 48.8 percent from the field. Of course the Kings were successful on the offensive end as well, hitting a very good Jazz team for 128 points. 

It’s clear the Kings defense is behind the offense, but they're building chemistry and showing signs of improvement.

Why Kings remain focused on improving defense as preseason continues

kingsdefenseap.jpg
AP

Why Kings remain focused on improving defense as preseason continues

SACRAMENTO -- Defense. Defense. Defense.

Sometimes you have no choice but to reuse an opening line from an earlier piece. For the Kings, the focus was  -- and will be -- on the defensive side of the ball from now until the point where the team starts to improve.

“It didn’t look very good, did it,” coach Luke Walton said Tuesday when asked about the Kings’ defense last week in India. “That’s why we’re addressing it. It’s something that we as a group have to get much better at. There’s no reason to panic. It’s two and a half days of prep work before we flew out there and Indiana is a very good team.”

Walton is correct when it comes to the Pacers, the Kings' opponents in a pair of preseason games last week. Nate McMillan’s crew finished last season 48-34, earning the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

While the Pacers added a few new faces in free agency, they still have a core group of players and coaching staff that has been together for a few years. That is not a luxury that the Kings have at this point.

“It’s just about continuing to put in work and getting reps at our coverages and then the want to from out guys,” Walton said. “Our guys want to become a good defensive team, so it will happen. It just takes time.”

With two new starters and plenty of additions to the rotation, the Kings are trying to jam as much as they can into a short amount of time. A week-long trip to India didn’t help matters. 

Walton and his staff now have two weeks to install both an offense and a defense before Sacramento opens the regular season on Oct. 23 against the Suns in Phoenix. 

“We’re working on it, we’re working on it every day,” Marvin Bagley said. “We’re getting new calls in, we’re just figuring it out.”

In their two preseason games in Mumbai, the Kings allowed 132 points in an overtime loss and 130 the next night. Sacramento allowed Indiana to shoot 51.6 percent from the field in the first game and 52.1 percent in the second.

“We’re on the fly with it,” Bagley added. “We’ve got to keep going, keep getting better, keep continuing to lock in these practices we have and we’ll be alright.”

The Kings hope to improve on its 39-43 record from last season and qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2006. But first. they’ll need to find chemistry on defense.

“Both of those games we let them score way too many points, too many fouls, too many straight line drives, layups, open threes,” De’Aaron Fox said. “It’s something we know we need to work on. We know offense isn’t a problem.”

The Kings scored an average of 118.5 points in the two contests, but they struggled just about everywhere defensively.

Both Bagley and Fox pointed to now having game film to work with. It’s one thing to practice against teammates. It’s a completely different feeling to face another NBA team.

“We have a foundation of it now, it’s just getting better at everything, getting all the terminology down, communicating," Fox said. "I think that’s one of our main aspects, we need to communicate. Kind of just taking it personal on defense, being able to keep guys in front of you, that’s the name of the game.

“... You can have all of these concepts and all the team defense, but at the end of the day, you have to have guys that can stand their ground."

The Kings are going to be a work in progress on defense for the foreseeable future. They’re still installing their base defense and haven’t even started building in some of the more crucial sets. With everything new, this process likely will stretch through the preseason and into the first quarter of the season.

[RELATED: Why Fox thinks 'Air Drake' could help Kings in free agency]

The defense has another test coming up Thursday when the Suns roll into Sacramento for the preseason home opener at Golden 1 Center. While Phoenix won just 19 games last season, Devin Booker is a big-time scorer and his team can go on runs in a hurry.

Sacramento will be without Harry Giles (sore left knee) and Tyler Ulis (hip) for a third straight game, and veteran guard Cory Joseph (calf) is unlikely to play as well.