NBA Summer League

Jackson, Giles pave the way for Kings' first Summer League win

Jackson, Giles pave the way for Kings' first Summer League win

The Sacramento Kings picked up their first win of the Summer League in Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon, knocking off the Memphis Grizzlies by a final of 94-80. With the victory, the Kings improved to 2-4 overall on the summer.

Wins and losses don’t mean much, but there are plenty of items to glean from the games. Here are five takeaways as the Kings move towards the elimination phase of the tournament.

- Justin Jackson looks great as a primary scorer. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely he’ll have that role when the regular season starts in October. As a focal point, Jackson dropped in 20 points or more for the fourth time in six games. He shot an impressive 8-of-13 from the field and knocked down 2-of-4 from long range on his way to a 20-point, two-rebound performance. 

- Harry Giles is gaining momentum. The Kings haven’t had a player like Giles since Ron Artest. The 20-year-old big plays the game with an intensity and force that Sacramento desperately needs. He still makes plenty of rookie mistakes, but his defensive acumen is off the charts, especially for a player that’s sat for most of the last three seasons. He posted his second double-double of the summer, finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. In three games in Vegas, Giles is averaging 12 points and 7.7 rebounds in 23.3 minutes a contest.

- Frank Mason has struggled to find his footing while running the show, but he looked better against the Grizzlies. The second-year point guard managed to score 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and chipped in 13 assists. Mason currently ranks third in assist during the Las Vegas Summer League at eight dimes per game. He’s struggled to get his offense going, but he’s setting up his teammates well and he turned the ball over just once in 26 minutes of action.

- The Kings are loaded at the center and power forward positions, but Zach Auguste looks like a player worth giving a longer look. The 25-year-old out of Notre Dame scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and added a block and a steal in 19 minutes of action. He’s mobile, rebounds and has a nice post game. The Kings only have two roster spots open for the regular season, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to offer Auguste an invite to training camp and possibly a look in Stockton this season. 

- Anthony Brown and Matt Jones both contributed to the Kings’ win. At 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, Brown has good size for the wing spot. He’s bounced in and out of the league over the past three seasons after being taken in the early second round of the 2015 NBA Draft. Jones spent last season with the Bighorns after going undrafted out of Duke in 2017. He can shoot the rock, but the Kings are set at the shooting guard position. 

Marvin Bagley III will miss rest of Summer League

Marvin Bagley III will miss rest of Summer League

Marvin Bagley III's first appearance at the NBA Summer League is over after just one game. 

An MRI on Monday revealed the 19-year-old, who Sacramento selected No. 2 overall in this June's NBA Draft, has a pelvic bone bruise, the Kings announced. He will be able to resume full basketball activity in a couple weeks, but will miss the remainder of the Summer League.

Bagley played 32 minutes in his Las Vegas debut on Saturday, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a block, and a steal. He left the game early, and was stretching with Pete Youngman, Sacramento's head trainer. 

The rookie played in all three tune-up games ahead of Summer League as part of the inagural California Classic. As a freshman at Duke last season, Bagley missed four games with a knee injury. 

Justin Jackson impresses in second game of a critical summer

Justin Jackson impresses in second game of a critical summer

SACRAMENTO -- Adjusting to life in the NBA is no easy task, even for a seasoned college player like Justin Jackson. After a slow start to the California Classic in game one, the Kings’ small forward looked comfortable and confident in the team’s 71-54 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday evening. 

“I think for me, it’s just trying to be aggressive, trying to stay confident,” Jackson told media members following the loss. “Whether they are running plays for me or not, trying to keep that same mindset so that when I do get my opportunities, it’s the same as if I got touches before that.”

Jackson was clearly not the focus in the opener where he finished with just five points, one rebound and one assist in 33 minutes of action. 

After leading the North Carolina Tar Heels to a National Championship in 2017, the adjustment to playing a secondary role hasn’t been an easy one for Jackson. 

“If you ask every guy that comes from college going to the NBA, unless you’re a top-five pick or somebody like, I think it’s one of the biggest adjustments - trying to do your job knowing that you might not get the one thing that you’re used to doing all the time and that’s getting the ball and trying to score,” Jackson said. 

With De’Aaron Fox sidelined with a sore left Achilles tendon, Jackson was featured early on Tuesday evening and took full advantage. The 23-year-old wing led all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He also added five rebounds and an assist in 30 minutes for coach Larry Lewis.

“I liked it,” Lewis said. “I think Justin has a game that was very useful tonight. I think it’s important to understand that when a guy feels good or has a certain talent level, we go to him and that’s what I wanted to do.”

You could see Jackson’s confidence early in the game. He knocked down 5-of-5 from the field in the first half, including 2-for-2 from behind the arc. 

With Jackson hitting his shots, point guard Frank Mason III made a concerted effort to feed him the ball and ride out the streak.

“As a point guard, you’ve got to know that, you’ve got to feel that,” Mason said. “You see he’s pretty much making everything he shoots. Coach did a great job of calling sets and getting the ball in his hand and me and my teammates did a good job of finding him.”

It’s not every night that Jackson gets to be the featured player in the offense. In the games that the ball doesn’t swing his way, he needs to find a way to do the little things, like rebounding and playing defense. 

“I think defensively is where I can really find a spot, you know, being kind of that long, active defender. I think that’s something I can do whether I’m touching the ball or not on offense,” Jackson added.

The California Classic is a trial run for Las Vegas Summer League, which begins this weekend. Jackson needs to find consistency, even if the games mean very little in the grand scheme of the NBA. 

Jackson started 41 games for the Kings last season, but playing time is never guaranteed in the league, especially for a young player. After getting married last summer, he has a support system in place that many players his age don’t have, which can help him get through the ups and downs of a long season. 

“I love my wife, my wife is super supportive and so at the end of the day, having her support, having her confidence in me allows me to go out there and play how I can,” Jackson said.

There is an opening at the three in Sacramento. As of July 3rd, Jackson is one of the few options the teams has at the position. That can change quickly through trades or free agency, but a strong showing in summer league from Jackson might help to quiet some of critics.