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Kings 54, Warriors 71: The Sophomores Shine in Sloppy Summer League Showdown

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The young Kings were led by their second-year duo of Justin Jackson and Frank Mason, who combined for 36 points in the loss to Golden State.

Kimani Okearah

Welcome to NBA Summer League, where the players are all young and the points don’t matter.

The Sacramento Kings missed De’Aaron Fox on the scoreboard—Fox is done for the rest of Summer League, and their offense shot just 27.5% against the Golden State Warriors—but the Summer League contests are hardly about wins and losses, anyways. The key Sacramento youngsters who did play gave us plenty to ponder without the second year point.

Justin Jackson had a bounce-back game, finishing with a game-high 20 points and 5 rebounds on 7 of 11 shooting. He scored 7 of the Kings first 9 points, including a three, a lay-up, and a turnaround jumper, and that varied, balanced offense continued throughout the contest. After a truly worrying contest against the Lakers, it was great to see the sophomore from North Carolina attack with confidence and competence. If JJ can keep up with success, maybe he really CAN play small forward.

With Fox sitting and his ball-control responsibilities spiked, Frank Mason was the other consistent bright spot for the Kings all evening. He finished with 16 points and 5 assists, and seemingly had a breakaway layup every few possessions. He did have a few early turnovers, but made up for it with some highlight steals in the second quarter.

Harry Giles finished with 4 points and 3 rebounds, showcasing the same full-throttle effort from the contest against the Lakers but less of the scoreboard success. He was aggressive on defense, finishing with 3 steals, a handful more deflections, and some excellent help defense when Bagley got lost. But Giles was also overly aggressive on offense, finishing just 2 of 9 from the field. He’s flashing the full offensive skillset we’ve hear whispers of out of the Kings lockerroom, but his enthusiasm when he gets into the paint is causing him to rush with the ball.

Most importantly, it’s good to see Giles play with this insane confidence. He lacked this confidence when he was playing at Duke, and it’s impossible to blame him, but given everything, it looks like the Kings patient plan for Giles is paying off. His game will catch up with his motor at some point.

Marvin Bagley got lost in Jordan Bell’s shadow., finishing with 7 points and 7 boards on 3 of 16 shooting. Struggling against Bell shouldn’t be that concerning—Bell was already a excellent defender before he spent the last year learning defense from the best team in basketball—but Bagley’s telegraphed offense, reliance on his left hand, and raw defensive instincts show the Kings faithful need to be patient with the Duke rookie. His creation skills aren’t caught up with his athletic gifts yet, but there’s plenty of reason to think they someday will. He never stopped attacking, which is good enough for a 19-year old rookie in his second Summer League game.

One reason for optimism, from our even-toed ungulate friend:

The Kings not already named above combined for 7 points.

Sacramento will finish up the inaugural California Classic on Thursday when they play Bam Adebayo and the Miami Heat.