The Reno Bighorns pretty much went with the Sacramento Kings’ Summer League squad against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. They started with Isaiah Cousins and Malachi Richardson in the backcourt and Lamar Patterson, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis to round out the frontcourt.
The first half was awful for the Bighorns but head coach Darrick Martin made some second half adjustments, which were speeding up the tempo of the game. They were trying to play a half court offense similar to the Kings’ high post system but these players simply weren’t capable of doing it.
I believe it will take more familiarity from these players to get acclimated to coach Martin’s system. So the easy thing to do was to run up and down with the Vipers, which is how they cut into a huge first half deficit.
Richardson was extremely passive in the first half but exploded in the second and finished with 22 points on 3-of-6 from behind the arc. He looked very comfortable shooting the rock and reminded me of his Syracuse days.
He looks the most ready to make an impact on this year’s Kings team, but unless one of the shooting guards ahead of him on the depth chart doesn’t get injured or traded, then expect Richardson to get more burn in Reno.
Labissiere finished with nine points and 11 rebounds but had too many turnovers (4). He missed all three of his 3-point attempts and really struggled to get into a rhythm offensively.
Papagiannis looked a lot better tonight. It was a small sample size but as I stated during the Summer League, he has a really nice inside touch with either hand. He showcased that tonight by scoring 15 points on 6-of-13 from the field. He didn’t do a very good job on the glass, as he only grabbed four rebounds.
As the game begins to slow down for him, expect his rebounding numbers to get better. He also needs to get in better shape, which is something he has been working very hard at.
Patterson finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and Cousins chipped in 14 points. Patterson really reminds me of a young Tyreke Evans in terms of driving to the basket and finding ways to slither around defenders and finishing at the basket with ease.
The Bighorns play their second game on November 15, 2016 against the Austin Spurs.