The Sacramento Kings summer league team gets a pause after a grueling three-day mini-camp followed by three games in four nights. As their tournament seeding for this Wednesday is determined, the coaching staff will break down film in an attempt to get a better idea of the prospects on their hands.
A week’s worth of basketball is hardly how to get to know someone, but for fringe NBA players fighting for fall camp invites, it’s what they have to work with. Three games into Summer League, some impressions are forming for the Kings.
Watchers of the Kings should be numb to the news, but the club has averaged nearly 24 turnovers in three games. Conversely, Sacramento opponents have spilled roughly 15 turnovers per match. The dribble drive offense predicates regular ball movement, and the forward-heavy personnel seems to be less than ideal to operate the system.
The roller coaster rides on the arc are not for the weary. Their most exaggerated bends came defensively on the Sunday and Monday back-to-back, when the Kings followed up a 12-for-29 Nuggets downtown drumming with a 3-for-17 stifling of the Warriors. Offensively, Sacramento has ranged from mediocre to abysmal from 3-point range, with a 2-for-23 shot chart on Sunday to hang its head on. If the Kings wish to repeat as Summer League champs, outside play must be addressed.
All eyes are on Cauley-Stein and the lottery pick hasn’t disappointed. The Kentucky product leads the Kings with 13 points per game and has shown he can finish with contact. Additionally the 7-foot-1, 240-pounder has shared glimpses of defensive dominance. A couple of Cauley-Stein’s 2.7 blocks per game have been chase-downs, and he’s contained pick and rolls well. As for anything negative, his relentless pursuit for blocks is comprising his rebound positioning.
Moreland’s breakout performance last Summer League set a high bar. The second-year big has underwhelmed offensively aside from scoring 11 points on Monday, but his defense has remained reliable from the low to high post. Moreland is dishing out 2.3 blocks over three appearances, and crashing the glass on both ends of the floor.
Despite sitting the entire match on Friday, Wear shined in games 2 and 3 with a polished offensive arsenal. The 6-foot-10, 225-pounder has scored a combined 32 points on 50 percent shooting, effectively using pick and rolls, cuts to the hoop and put-backs. All the while Wear has spilled a total two turnovers. Wear will need to pick up his 2-for-11 accuracy from behind the arc, but a second straight training camp invite may be in order.
The Kings are taking a hard look at Anderson, as he’s led the team playing 23.3 minutes a game. The 20th pick in 2010 has demonstrated he can score off the dribble, hit mid-range jumpers and feed teammates, yet the off guard has made only 1-of-6 tries from downtown. Anderson’s 63.6 percent field goal percentage may say otherwise, but he has been irresponsible with the rock at times, losing 4.67 turnovers over three appearances. The wing’s current level of play won’t warrant a spot in the regular season rotation.
Stockton missed game 1 with a sprained left ankle, and was rusty in a 2-for-9 shooting, 5-assist, 6-turnover effort facing Emmanuel Mudiay on Sunday. Then the 5-foot-11, 165-pound ball handler bounced back with a 10-point, 4-assist, 2-turnover Monday showing. Stockton has yet to find his outside shot this summer, but his dribble penetration has been solid. Even with his up and down displays, Stockton has thoroughly outplayed Julyan Stone at the point.
Liggins’ numbers aren’t worth a second glance, but the 53rd pick in 2011 has flashed all-round skills at the small forward position. The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder moves the ball, doesn’t settle for jumpers and embraces defensive responsibilities, for which the Kings have awarded him three straight starts.
The Kings’ biggest surprise so far, the undrafted Wisconsin Badger has impressed coaches with his stroke and smarts. While he went scoreless in a Sunday spot start, Dukan notched 11 points in the Friday opener and 13 points on Monday. He leads Sacramento with an efficient five 3-point makes and is shooting 47 percent from the floor. The franchise is still searching for a stretch big and the 6-foot-10, 220-pounder is making his case for a training camp invite.
The 7-foot-5, 360-pounder center played one game before leaving Las Vegas to suit up for the Canadian national team. In under 21 minutes versus the Raptors, Bhullar gobbled rebounds and guarded the rim but forced passes and struggled to run the floor. It was clear from the small sample size he’s still a ways from making an NBA impact.