Marvin Bagley III was born on March 14, 1999. On that date, the Sacramento Kings defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 105 - 101, and it’s no coincidence that his first taste of NBA basketball also came in a win against the Evil Empire. Sacramento was able to pull out a close victory behind solid performances from De’Aaron Fox, Frank Mason, and Marvin Bagley, while the Lakers were led in scoring by Mo Wagner and Josh Hart.
The Kings started the game with Fox, Mason, Jackson, Bagley, and Giles, and the offensive strategy seemed a wholly different concept than what Dave Joerger ran last year. As De’Aaron Fox hinted at a few days ago, Sacramento pushed the ball at every opportunity, attempting to take advantage of their length, quickness, and athleticism, rather than relying on a coherent half-court offense. If the coaching staff can stick to a similar game plan this coming fall, the Kings could get up and down the court much faster than the vast majority of their opponents.
Of course, the joys of Summer League don’t stem from wins and losses, but rather from individual player performances. A quick evaluation of each member of the roster who received significant minutes:
Harry Giles (13 points, 6/10 FG, 3 rebounds, 4 turnovers): The most impressive aspect of Harry’s game tonight was his defensive intensity. While he still has some gaps in his awareness, the Kings mystery man clearly enjoys playing that end of the floor, a rarity for members of the young core. Giles also likes to talk, chattering with opponents all game, and isn’t afraid to give a bump or shove before the play begins, an attitude that’s sorely needed on the team. His scoring wasn’t on point, but his offensive skill set and court vision demonstrated the fluidity that has been advertised for the last 15 months. Overall, an encouraging sign for the former high school star.
Marvin Bagley (18 points, 6/11 FG, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks): The second overall pick was solid on offense, inconsistent on the defensive end, and nearly killed the most hated man in the arena, Mo Wagner, with a spectacular dunk:
Marvin showed some flashes of potential in the post, although not every trip in the paint was a success. When he was able to move decisively, Bagley scored, but any hesitation seemed to take him out of his rhythm and led to prolonged attacks. His free throw shooting was better than expected, as the big man nailed 5/6 from the line, and he sunk 1/2 shots from deep as well. The rookie did show a bit of the tunnel vision reported in his draft profiles, recording zero assists and not really looking like a man ready and willing to move the ball around the floor. Although he blocked three shots, his post defense left something to be desired, an area of weakness that has already been identified. A few concerns revealed themselves during the contest, but there’s no doubt he’s an NBA player who could become much more.
De’Aaron Fox (23 points, 9/15 FG, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 turnovers): De’Aaron was the best player on the court: exactly what one hopes to see from a lottery pick’s second Summer League. It looks as though he added a significant amount of upper-body strength over the last few months, something that helped Fox finish through contact several times throughout the evening. The only two small concerns were his turnovers, although he only had one in the second half, and his lack of success from beyond the arc, as he hit only one out of six attempts. Our sophomore point guard probably doesn’t need to play for the rest of the California Classic. He looks ready for the regular season.
Justin Jackson (5 points, 2/6 FG, 1 rebound, 1 assist): If you are one of the few remaining fans who believe that Justin Jackson can fill the gap at small forward for this squad next season, turn away now. One of the most commonly shared nuggets of wisdom regarding Summer League shares the fact that second year players should clearly be a step above the rest of the competition. Jackson was not that player. As frustrated observers also saw during his rookie campaign, the young wing disappeared for large chunks of the game and looked overwhelmed on both ends of the court. It’s only one game in July, but his performance was anything but encouraging. He looked closer to a training camp invite than a rotational player for an NBA team.
Frank Mason (16 points, 4/7 FG, 2 rebounds, 9 assists): Frank Mason looked every bit the solid point guard we saw last year. He did most of his play-making in the first three quarters, while finishing out the last period attacking the hoop. Mason shot the ball well from the three-point line and charity stripe, while his defense was just fine. A fine outing from the former Kansas star.