The year-over-year improvements from De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, along with the potential of Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles and Bogdan Bogdanovic (as well as the presence of Harrison Barnes) have the makings of a talented core for the Sacramento Kings moving forward. It is the hope that their continued growth (and health), plus a strong surrounding cast, takes this franchise to the next level.
The Kings signed several players over the summer in hopes to try to deliver that support for the core pieces of the roster already in place. Key among those signings is Cory Joseph and Dewayne Dedmon. Each, along with Trevor Ariza and Richaun Holmes, bring elements the Kings need.
In Dedmon, they get a big man who can adequately protect the rim, run the floor and hit threes. In Joseph, the Kings get a defensive-minded point guard to back up Fox.
Joseph’s impact was already noticed by Fox during a recentconversation about how Fox guarded Damian Lillard. Joseph told him that he wouldn’t have to worry about it this season if they are on the court together. If Fox ever gets tired in a game, or needs reinforcements to defend an opposing guard, Joseph has made it clear that he is there for the third-year, speedy guard.
“I’ve always done that for all of my guys that I played with,” Joseph said.
Defense has been something Joseph has hung his hat on his whole career. As a result, he takes pride in guarding the opposing team’s best player. Joseph, who is going into his ninth season, won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014, and had a defensive rating of 107.1 last season, which was better than any other player on the Kings roster. Additionally, Bleacher Report recently named Joseph the top defender at the point guard position in the NBA. So, the Kings could have the ball stopper they have needed in the backcourt to allow Fox the energy to spearhead the offense. That isn’t to say Fox isn’t, or can’t be, a really good defender, and Joseph acknowledges that.
“Sky is the limit for him honestly, offensively and defensively. His athleticism doesn’t come around this league often as a point guard. He has great, great foot speed, obviously we know how fast he is length to length, but as a defender, he could be an amazing defender,” Joseph said. “He could definitely be all-defensive, maybe defensive player of the year one of these of years.”
Joseph could also end up being a player who consistently helps Fox grow by challenging him on the defensive side of the ball in practice.
“Going up against Fox, very, very quick, electrifying quick, very athletic – hopefully throughout this season I’ll be able to make him better, likewise he’ll make me better,” said Joseph, who declares that he always gives 110 percent.
Dedmon, coincidentally, said the same thing about himself over the summer in reference to his early years in the league: “My first three years, I really wasn’t playing much, but when I got in the game, I was going to go at 110 percent and I try to hang my hat on that now,” Dedmon said.
That energy will be needed to keep up with this quick Kings offense. Dedmon comes in as the replacement to Willie Cauley-Stein. For any shortcomings Cauley-Stein had, he was able to run the floor, which helped the Kings play their fast-pace style of offense last season. Bagley recently mentioned how important Cauley-Stein was in that regard.
“We’ve got Dewayne running, everybody is running, so I think we’ll be all right. Losing Willie (Cauley-Stein) was kind of a big thing because he could run the floor, he could get up and down, but now we have Dewayne, I think we’ll be all right, I think we can still continue to move toward our goal,” Bagley said.
Dedmon should be able to run the floor considering the team he came from, the Atlanta Hawks, were No. 1 in pace last season. Additionally, he can catch lobs and shoot threes – he shot 38 percent from three last season to go along with 10.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 blocks in just 25 minutes per game with the Hawks. Aside from the numbers, Dedmon will play a key role in anchoring the defense. He says communication is something he is focusing on in that area, and Head Coach Luke Walton has taken notice.
“He’s been good. We really value shooting around here and he’s a five man who can shoot the ball. He’s been in the league for a few years now so he knows coverages, he knows how to talk as far as being a center calling out the coverages,” Walton said.
On the offensive end, Dedmon is looking to space the floor and give Bagley and Fox some room to work.
“It’s a new league now, we’re trying to open up the floor, give more space to operate in the pick-and-roll situation … space it at the wing or the corner,” said Dedmon, who will be looking for Bagley on the offensive end: “First thing I told him was I’m going to look for him when I get the ball first. I’m always trying to find him and he’s offensively talented, he’s skilled so I’m definitely trying to find some big-to-big passes.”
Tomorrow, in the Kings first preseason game from India against the Indiana Pacers, we’ll get to see how these offseason additions are fitting in.