Summer League Preview: The Kings' Week Ahead

After taking a beating in their first game against the Raptors, the Kings summer league squad will look to bounce back and showcase their rookies and second-year players.




With a number of new rookies and a few second-year players looking to improve, Sacramento has a lot to look at over the course of the Vegas summer league. After a rough first outing against the Raptors, the Kings will look to show improvement in their next two games.

Friday, July 8

Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets

7:00 PM Pacific Time

The Kings had trouble scoring against the Raptors from the opening tip in this game, tallying just 29 points in the first three quarters. Skal Labissiere, the #28 overall pick in the past draft, was one of the few bright spots. He scored seven points and added eight rebounds and two blocks in his 22 minutes, and showed some of his great potential on both ends of the floor. #22 pick Malachi Richardson also had a decent first game, tying the team lead in scoring (with Skal and Wilie Cauley-Stein) on only six shots from the floor. Dave Joerger will likely push him to be more aggressive offensively in the next two games; Richardson is probably the best scoring option on this Summer League roster, and should get more touches in the next game.

Despite tying the team lead in scoring, Willie Cauley-Stein had a very sub-par first game and did not look like the destructive force he was last year both defensively and in the open court. His poor offensive and defensive showing were not typical in what was simply a bad game for him, as he played far better last year against superior talent at the NBA level. The Kings will have a better offensive showing in their next game even if only due to cluster luck, but there are some talented offensive players on their roster (including their recent draft picks but also sharpshooter Duje Dukan) who will almost certainly not repeat their poor showing against the Raptors.

Sunday, July 10

Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets

3:30 PM Pacific Time

The Kings will have a chance to bounce back from their game against the Raptors this Sunday against Houston. The Rockets lost their first Summer League game to the Atlanta Hawks in a close contest, 83-78. Sam Dekker put up an admirable performance in the loss and scored efficiently both inside and outside. Their performance was derailed by terrible showing from KJ McDaniels and Michael Beasley, who combined to shoot a ghastly 6-29 from the floor. McDaniels has never been a high-volume shooter and will not be next year on a Rockets team with plenty of shooters, and Beasley is one of the streakiest players in basketball. Neither one is likely to have a repeat performance against the Kings.

The key match-up to watch in this game will be the one between McDaniels and Malachi Richardson. Richardson was tentative in his first game against the Raptors, and the man across from him is a good NBA-level defender and a truly remarkable athlete. This might not be the best game for Richardson to hunt for his shot, but he will need to hunt for his offense after his showing against Toronto. Richardson's ability to score against McDaniels will be a key factor for the Kings in this game, and may well be the difference between a Kings win and a repeat of Friday's performance.

Monday, July 11

Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans

7:00 PM Pacific Time

The Kings will face the New Orleans Pelicans and recent #6 pick Buddy Hield on Monday in their last game before the matchups are set for the tournament that encompasses the final five days of Summer League. Hield had a tough time scoring against D'Angelo Russell and the Lakers in his first game, shooting 5-20 overall and just 1-8 from 3-point range. The Kings cannot afford to hope that he will repeat his poor shooting effort, and will need to focus on him defensively to contain the Pelicans' offense.

The key match-up in this game will be between Willie Cauley-Stein and Cheick Diallo. Diallo was a Top-5 player in his high school class (and MVP of the McDonald's All-American game) but fell to the early second round after a lackluster season at Kansas. However, he is one of the few big men in the league who is on Cauley-Stein's level as a pure athlete--at 6'9" with a 7'5" wingspan and a 35-inch max vertical, Diallo uses his athletic gifts to rebound and send back shots. Cauley-Stein will have a height advantage on Diallo, but Diallo will come closer to matching his foot speed and bounce than any other Summer League player he will go against. The Kings will have a good chance at winning this game if Willie can best Diallo and use his length and defensive instincts to control the explosive scoring potential of Buddy Hield.


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