The wait is finally over Kings fans! The Sacramento Kings are the champions ... of the 2021 Las Vegas Summer League!
Despite facing a team with several NBA-experienced players, Sacramento thoroughly and utterly dominated Boston on Tuesday, winning 100-67.
The Celtics started the game off on a 12-2 run, and it seemed like the Kings had finally met their match from a talent perspective in Las Vegas, however that wasn’t the case. Sacramento’s stifling defense eventually helped them erase that early deficit and eventually blow the breaks off Boston.
The Kings forced the Celtics into 28 turnovers, which the Kings scored 38 points off of. For a stretch in the third quarter, it seemed like the Kings were turning over the Celtics on every possession and getting a good look in transition going the other way.
Several Kings had strong moments individually throughout the contest, but it was a team-wide defensive masterclass orchestrated by head coach Bobby Jackson that led to this victory and championship. Jackson clearly drilled the message early in training camp that the identity of this summer Kings squad was going to be defense.
Watching these Kings play defense was such a stark contrast to watching the defense the 2020-21 Kings put out there on a nightly basis. Constant connectivity, energy, and effort were on display throughout most of the summer league.
Davion Mitchell was the embodiment of that on Tuesday. Mitchell completely locked up Payton Pritchard, limiting him to just 4 points on 2 of 8 shooting. Coming into the game, Pritchard had been averaging 20.3 points in the summer league and had just made headlines by scoring 92 points in a Portland pro-am game over the weekend. Nevertheless, Mitchell did what he has done to every guard he has been matched up with this summer league, he made Pritchard’s life a 94 ft hell.
Pritchard was visibly affected by Mitchell’s on-ball pressure and presence on Tuesday, as evidenced by his 4 turnovers. Mitchell’s defense on Pritchard was a microcosm for how the Kings guarded the Celtics as a whole on Tuesday.
On offense, the Kings were carried by two guys that have been doing it for most of the summer league in Louis King and Jahmi’us Ramsey.
King had yet another productive outing finishing with 21 points while making 4 of his 8 three-point attempts which was good enough for him to be named Summer League Championship MVP.
Ramsey scored 16 points, continuing his solid play in Vegas, by making plays on defense and getting out in transition. The Kings are pretty crowded in the backcourt, but Ramsey clearly showed his talent level during summer league and is a guy to watch out for over the next 12 months.
Several other members of the Kings had a major impact on the game. Matt Coleman was solid for Sacramento, making all six of his field goals and providing a steady presence for the team when the bench unit was in.
Tuesday’s championship is Sacramento’s second-ever Summer League Championship, as they won their first one back in 2014.
It’s just summer league, but man does it feel good to have the words “Sacramento” and “Championship” in the same sentence.