Editor’s Note: Welcome to our 2020 Kings Season Preview series, where we’ll be looking ahead to what this season will bring for every member of this Sacramento roster and pondering both best and worst-case scenarios. Today, let’s continue with DaQuan Jeffries.
How did he get here?
Jeffries showed out in the NBA bubble. He averaged 11.7 points while shooting 40 percent on threes during 24.7 minutes per game in the scrimmage games, then followed that up with 17.4 minutes per game during the seeding games, earning minutes ahead of veterans Corey Brewer and Jabari Parker. That performance made Jeffries a priority for the Kings, as he graduated from a two-way contract in 2019-20 to a fully-guaranteed NBA deal this season. Sacramento also has the option to retain Jeffries in 2021-22 at the minimum.
What is his best-case scenario for 2020-21?
Jeffries builds off the progress he showed during the restart and becomes an integral part of the wing rotation. He rebounds the ball well to help lead Sacramento fast breaks, or he finishes those possessions with his athleticism. Jeffries can also bring some movement to the halfcourt offense with his knack for cutting or making the extra pass. His shooting improves from the 34.2 percent he shot from 3-point range in Stockton last year to 36 or 37 percent, and he capably spaces the floor for the Kings guards.
On defense, Jeffries gives some heft and strength and the wing position, allowing the Kings to play two point guards together without getting too small on the perimeter. He uses his verticality to provide rim protection in a switching defense, and he’s able to create turnovers with his aggression. He fills a needed role as a play finisher who can impact the game without the ball in his hands.
General manager Monte McNair raved about Jeffries in his preseason media availability.
“DaQuan is somebody we had looked at in Houston as well, and I think did some great things for the Kings last year,” McNair said. “The thing I love, first and foremost, is his toughness, you know, plays hard-nosed on both ends of the floor. And I think we also saw his shooting start to improve, and I think that’s a key for him. But he certainly showed his toughness and versatility on defense, the ability to play in a switching defense as well as you know just lock onto a guy and shut them down is huge. And then offensively, with his athleticism, ability to run the floor and hopefully continue to improve that shooting could be a really impactful two way player.”
What is his worst-case scenario?
Jeffries has been out of most of the preseason with a sore back, and it’s possible he falls behind Glenn Robinson III in the rotation as that high-flying forward. Head coach Luke Walton has already shown a commitment to Harrison Barnes at the 3, and with Buddy Hield, Cory Joseph, and Robinson also all demanding wing minutes, Jeffries could be a numbers casualty.
There’s also a situation where Jeffries’ bubble performance is a fluke. He didn’t play well in his lone preseason game, missing all five of his shots (including two threes) and picking up three fouls in 12 minutes. If his offense isn’t ready for the NBA level and he can’t defend without fouling, there’s no reason to keep him on the floor. With the Stockton Kings reportedly opting out of the G League season, that gives Jeffries few opportunities to develop his game this year.
My personal favorite part of the Kings’ bubble tenure was DaQuan Jeffries. Physically, he has the talent to be an impact wing in the NBA, but he has to improve his skill and feel for the game to get there. It’s only his second season, and his progression throughout 2020 suggests that he is ready for the challenge. He may not have a regular role thanks to the composition of this team’s roster, but he should to be able to make his presence felt whenever he’s on the court.