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Preseason notes: Kings 105, Suns 88

KINGS WIN (a preseason game)

NBA: Preseason-Phoenix Suns at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Sacramento Kings turned in a dominant performance against the Phoenix Suns in their preseason home opener on Thursday night. But you don’t care about the final score in a preseason game, right? Well, here are some story lines we’ve identified that could effect Sacramento’s regular season, once it arrives.

  • It looks like Bagley can guard the four

In the India games, Marvin Bagley III was given the responsibilities of a traditional big man early and often. He had some tough matchups with Damontas Sabonis and Myles Turner, and played several stretches as the only big man on the floor.

Tonight he mostly guarded and was guarded by Dario Saric, a more typical four in the modern game. The results were meaningfully better. He collected 12 rebounds in the first half alone, and consistently got to his spots on both sides of the floor. He even threw a pretty alley-oop to Dewayne Dedmon that showed both anticipation and touch.

When banging bodies with forwards like Saric and Kelly Oubre Jr., Bagley did not look out of place one bit. We know that Bagley is not going to shut down seven-footers any time soon, nor will he consistently score on them. But he should have some big defensive moments as a power forward this season, with some matchups that will allow his offense to flourish as well.

  • World Cup Bogi is real — for now

This version of Bogdan Bogdanovic looks nothing like what we saw around last season’s All-Star break. Bogdanovic was in an almighty slump in the beginning of 2019. He shot below 40% from the field in both February and March. But those months might as well be years in the review mirror.

The only problem is that Bogi has a tendency to start strong and fade as a season — or even a game — goes on. His twice repaired knee could play a part in that. Wear and tear could be an issue for the 27-year-old as time goes on. If Bogi embraces the 6th man role, allowing him to conserve his energy for bursts when the Kings need him the most, it could go a long way to keeping Bogi healthy and confident throughout the season.

The other concern around Bogdanovic is a potential for him to be over-utilized as a distributor. Bogi is a good passer — no question about that — but when he is the primary initiator he has a tendency to pound the ball and force unwise entries into the post. In other words, we want more of Bogi the shooter (3-4 3PT) and less of Bogi the initiator (6 TOV).

  • Yogi Ferrell’s minutes could dry up

Yogi Ferrell is fun to watch and fun to root for. The call and response that echoes through the arena when he makes a big play might be the peak of fan engagement each night at G1C. But he doesn’t feel like a lock for Sacramento’s rotation.

Ferrell played 16 minutes tonight, but that was with Corey Joseph out with a minor injury. Yogi has solid off guard skills and is a strong spot-up shooter. His shot actually fell nicely tonight. But the Kings have tried to fit him into a backup point guard role for a while now, and I’m not convinced they will keep trying for much longer.

Defensively, he is a target for opposing team can attack. I don’t care about his exact height, but I do know is he doesn’t play big enough to even slow down most point guards. And offensively, the playmaking just isn’t there. He really appears more like an undersized shooting guard than anything else, and it’s hard to see how that fits on this roster.

  • De’Aaron Fox’s defense is his differentiator

There have been extremely fast point guards in the NBA before. There have been explosive athletes that use their speed to generate unstoppable offenses. We’ve seen players like John Wall and Russell Westbrook do it in recent years.

The perceived problem with those players has been their lack of a consistent long range shot. However, perhaps it’s a different issue altogether that hold those players back from being superstars — namely, their defensive effort.

The Golden 1 Center absolutely lost its collective mind when Fox timed his jump perfectly on a chase down block to ruin Oubre’s night. De’Aaron Fox gives maximum effort on defense every single possession. Yes, he’s got a better shot that Wall or Westbrook, but he also doesn’t take plays off. This two-way ability is what will make Fox a superstar in no time.

  • Everybody loves Richaun Holmes

Holmes had 11 points and 6 boards in 20 minutes, on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. And his teammates gushed about him in the locker room after the game.

“I love him. I told Vlade he should get him” said Buddy Hield, laughing. “He’s gonna be big piece of this team.”

“He keeps the other big honest. If [they] step up, I can go right over their head for a lob,” said Fox. “He puts a lot of pressure on the rim so bigs have to make decisions.”

No one knows what exactly is going on with Harry Giles’ knee, but it appears the backup center position will be just fine until Harry is ready to get in the mix.