by Charlie O. Mallonee
Summer League is about development
The Las Vegas Summer League is about player development and not about wins and losses. Yes, the players and coaches like to win. The fans love wins, but again the goal is the development of young players.
Teams this season are also looking for players to fill roster slots 16 and 17. These are also known as the “two-way” roster players. These players will make one rate when playing in the G-League (officially the NBA Gatorade League) and the NBA minimum rate when playing for their NBA team.
As of today, the number 16 and 17 roster spots for the Kings are empty.
Players are also looking for roster spots on G-League teams. The Kings G-League franchise is the Reno Bighorns. The NBA is in the process of turning the G-League into a true minor league system to feed players to “the association”.
The bottom line is there are many story lines to watch in Las Vegas over the next 11 days.
The game itself was entertaining. It was a close contest that featured some very talented basketball plays and some very ugly, “we are still learning” plays. There were a few “dust ups” and even some technical fouls.
The were 17 lead changes and the game was tied 14 times. Sacramento’s biggest lead was 6-points while Phoenix held an 8-point advantage at one point. The Suns out-rebounded the Kings 41-39.
The Kings posted 11 assists and turned the ball over 14 times. The Suns turned it over 17 times and had 12 assists. Each team had eight steal.
The Kings had one glaring advantage and it was in blocked shots. Sacramento blocked 9 Phoenix shots while the Suns blocked 4 Kings field goal attempts.
- De’Aaron Fox — It was the “D-Fox” show a number of times in the game, but he is the number one draft pick and isn’t that what you want to see? There was a beautiful Kentucky to Kentucky assist to Labbissiere that led to a nice layup. A cross-court pass to Hield let him glide in for an easy two. Fox finished with 4 assists, 5 steals and let’s not forget his 18 points (7-16 shooting). He also demonstrated his breakaway speed multiple times.
- Justin Jackson — The number 15 overall draft selection did not start the game but he made the most of his 26 minutes coming off the bench. He shot 7-for-11 from the floor (2-4 from 3PT range) for a total of 18 points. Jackson does not demand the ball but puts himself in the right spots to score if the ball comes his way.
- Buddy Hield — The second-year guard is joining his new teammates in Vegas to tune up for the new season. Hield scored 16 points in 24 minutes of playing time. He shot 6-for-16 but was 0-for-6 from long range. Hield did have two very impressive drives to the bucket which could be a very nice addition to his game.
- Skal Labissiere — The big forward appears ready to pick up where he left off in April for the Kings. He scored 10 points in 28 minutes. Labissiere was 4-for-9 shooting while adding two blocked shots and one steal.
- Malachi Richardson — The shooting guard who missed the last part of the season due to injury started the game. He was able to play 24 minutes. Richardson posted 8 points shooting 2-for-7 including a 3-point basket. He looked a little rusty but it will not take him long to get back up to speed.
- Georgios Papagiannis — The big center got the start and played 28 minutes. His stats speak to the dichotomy that is “Papa G”. He scored no points (0-3 shooting). It is so frustrating watching him not being able to put-back close shots off rebounds. He led all rebounders with 11 and had 2 blocked shots. Papagiannis uses his size so well in those areas. He also added 2 assists and 1 steal. The key is to remember he is still young and under development.
- Marquese Chriss — The Sacramento area native made it hard to watch him because it is obvious that he is developing into the player his was projected to be when he was drafted by and then traded by the Kings. With a bulked up body, he scored 19 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 33 minutes on the floor. Chriss was 5-for-17 shooting but he made his way to the free throw line 13 times where converted 9 shots. He just bulls his way to the basket. When you watch him, keep saying Labissiere, Richardson, Papagiannis, Bogdanovic over and over again because that is who the Kings received in that trade.
- Josh Jackson — The number 4-overall draft pick had a very nice first game for the Suns as he scored 18 points. The forward from Kansas shot 6-for-17 (0-2 3PT) grabbed 8 rebounds and had 2 assists in 34 minutes of playing time. He even showed that he can make the midrange jumper that the experts say he needs to add to his game.
The Kings will be back in action on Sunday night when they will play the Memphis Grizzlies. Game time is 7:00 p.m. PDT and can be seen on NBA TV. Memphis is 1-0 after beating the Wizards in their first game.
Images from NBA.com and ESPN