After an exciting first summer league game against the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento decided to try a bold new strategy: miss as many shots as possible. It didn’t work out so great.
The Kings only scored 32 points in the entire first half, and nobody on the team can say they really had a good game. De’Aaron Fox led the way with 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, but also had 5 turnovers, 7 fouls (Summer League allows you 10) and shot just 6 for 12 from the line (it’s nice to see him getting to the line so much though).
The Kings as a whole shot just 36.4% from the field, 14.1% from three (3 for 21) and 57.1% from the line. The Grizzlies honestly didn’t shoot or play all that much better, and they let the Kings come back from a 17 points second half deficit to nearly tie the game back up in the final minutes.
Justin Jackson, who had a fantastic debut, couldn’t find a rhythm from outside, missing all eight of his three point attempts and going just 2 for 13 overall. They were all good looks too, but they just wouldn’t go down. Jackson got the start in Malachi Richardson’s place, who the Kings sat out after he tweaked his hamstring in the first game.
The Kings definitely tried to get Skal Labissiere more involved this time around which was nice to see, and he finished with 12 points on 6 of 12 shooting and 8 boards. Skal used that midrange jumper of his a lot more, and even tried to take it beyond the arc but like for every King, it wasn’t falling.
Buddy Hield’s outside shot continued to elude him as he went just 1 for 5 from three and 4 of 14 overall for 12 points but he had a couple of really nice takes to the basket. We know Buddy can shoot and that will come back around, so it’s nice to see him working on parts of his game that weren’t a strength for him last year. Getting to the rim and the free throw line will open up a lot for him. He’s still a little loose and careless with his dribble though and he’ll need to continue to work on that.
Georgios Papagiannis had a little bit of a better game than in the first one, but still didn’t look great. He finished with 5 points and 7 boards in 19 minutes. He’s got that bad young big man habit of taking unnecessary dribbles before trying to go the basket that cost him a couple of buckets.
I was a little worried about how unenthusiastic Frank Mason looked in the first game, but it looks like that’s just a part of his personality, a la Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard. The more worrying thing for Mason is that he’s seemingly having trouble finishing around the rim. One of the few cogent points that Isiah Thomas made on the broadcast was that when the other Isaiah came into the league in 2011, he made a name for himself by being able to finish around the rim despite the height disparity. Mason hasn’t necessarily made that adjustment yet.
The Kings played a bit more two point guard lineups with both Fox and Mason, and this is something that I think they might be preparing for during the season with both Fox and Hill. These lineups actually seemed to work best for the Kings, and Mason actually played more of the lead guard in these situations which was a bit surprising. What was not surprising was how much room the Grizz would give Mason when he didn’t have the ball. Nobody respects his shot yet, and for good reason.
The good thing about Fox’s shot though is that it doesn’t seem to be mechanically deficient. He’s got good touch on his midrange jumper, and he’s comfortable pulling up in rhythm. This doesn’t seem to be the case of a shot that’s so broken that it needs to be completely reinvented (a la Tyreke) and that gives me hope for his future as a shooter.
Of the other guys, Jack Cooley continues to be a fan favorite with his hustle and grit, even getting some chants of his name from the Kings-fan heavy crowd. Cooley finished with 11 points and 5 boards and I suspect he’s well on his way to potentially earning one of Sacramento’s two-way contracts for Reno.
We also got a look at JaKarr Sampson, who reminded me a little of Quincy Acy, both in how he looked and how he played. He brought a lot of energy and fire for the Kings in his 9 minutes and that helped sparked Sacramento’s comeback. He also had perhaps the highlight of the night with a vicious one handed dunk.
New Kings veteran Vince Carter was in attendance and joined the broadcast for a full quarter and I loved what I heard from him. He’s definitely got the right mindset as to how to treat and teach the young players, and he shared some cool stuff like how fellow UNC-alum and now teammate Justin Jackson was one of the first to text him after he signed with Sacramento saying “I’m ready to go to work and learn”. Carter sat on the bench with the young guys throughout the game and I’m sure is going to be a great presence for this team this season.
Sacramento has one more game before the tournament officially begins. That’s tonight at 7:30 p.m. against Lonzo Ball and the Lakers, who are also 0-2. Ball followed up a stinker of a first game with a triple-double, and this matchup against De’Aaron Fox will be fun to watch. There’s also a watch party at Golden 1 Center that got sold out (Kings fans are crazy) so if you go there tonight, have fun.