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Free Skal Labissiere

We’d like to see more of the Kings rookie.

Kimani Okearah

The Sacramento Kings are probably pretty bad. I’ll leave the playoff door open while it’s still within reach, but that was never a likely outcome once DeMarcus Cousins was shipped off to New Orleans for Buddy Hield and draft picks. The Kings should be gearing just about everything they do for the rest of the season towards player development, and yes, that includes more court time for their rookies.

While someone could conceivably write a similar post for George Papagiannis, we’re going to focus on Skal Labissiere today. Papagiannis has yet to show much of anything as a professional basketball player, Malachi Richardson is injured, and Skal has looked so intriguing in limited minutes this season, he’s really the only player Joerger hasn’t totally let loose who has earned our collective groveling.

First and foremost, it’s only been three games since the DeMarcus Cousins trade. I think we’ll reach a point in the not-too-distant future where Skal is playing more. This is a pre-complaint, really.

Anyway, here’s Skal Labissiere’s numbers since the All-Star break.

2016-17 Regular Season Table
58 SAC DEN W (+16) 13:58 5 7 .714 1.000 3 2 1 0 1 12 +16
59 SAC CHO L (-14) 22:45 4 10 .400 .000 13 1 1 0 1 8 0
60 SAC MIN L (-14) 13:53 2 4 .500 6 0 0 1 0 4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 2/28/2017.

It’s not the greatest series of numbers you’ve ever seen, but beyond his statistics, Skal is playing extremely hard. It’s not always pretty, but his excitement and energy is intoxicating. I want to see Skal Labissiere on a basketball court more than anything else I want to see out of the Sacramento Kings this season.

Skal only played 13 minutes in a blowout loss to the Timberwolves last night. It was a brutally difficult game to watch, and I’m not saying that Joerger should play Skal just to give fans that are crazy enough to watch this team right now something to be excited about, because I don’t think that is the case here. Skal is earning those minutes. I guess I should say seemingly earning those minutes, because if how he is playing right now isn’t enough for Joerger, I wonder what his criteria for earning it are.

In fact, Dave Joerger was asked about Skal’s playing time last night, and his answer sure was something.

I do feel for Joerger. While I don’t quite understand exactly why Skal only played 13ish minutes last night, I’m not the one tasked with finding a new identity for a basketball team whose identity was DeMarcus Cousins for several years. He has to do that on the fly, with no practice time, and only a handful of quality NBA rotation players. I have no idea what that struggle is like.

Ty Lawson talked about the Kings’ issues postgame.

As Ty Lawson said, the Kings are kind of lost right now. While all I want to see is the young guys play, Joerger is trying to create a basketball team again. If he doesn’t think he can do that while giving a 20-year-old rookie that has barely played in the NBA this season heavy minutes, I can understand that point.

But for as much as I can understand where Joerger is coming from, at some point this season giving the kids playing time has to take precedent over just about everything so long as those young players are working hard, learning, improving, etc.

Obligatory #FreeSkal.