The Sacramento Kings have been getting a lot of love over the last two weeks.
By all appearances they nailed the draft on June 22nd when they drafted De’Aaron Fox with the 5th pick followed by Justin Jackson, Harry Gilles III and Frank Mason III with the 15th, 20th and 34th picks.
National writers and analysts gave the Kings all kinds of love for that haul which was a nice change of pace and something Kings fans certainly aren’t used to.
Vlade Divac & Co. then followed up what may be the best draft in franchise history by signing three strong free agents over the past several days.
They signed George Hill to a 3-year $57 million deal with only a partial guarantee for the final year of his contract. Zach Randolph accepted a 2-year $24 million offer and his former Memphis Grizzlies teammate Vince Carter followed suit a few days later at 1-year $8 million deal.
I couldn’t be more thrilled! The Kings landed a highly skilled starting point guard caliber player in George Hill with lots of playoff experience to help the transition of De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason III. Many people felt the starting job should immediately be Fox’s when he was drafted but there is plenty of proof in the Kings recent history (see Ben McLemore for example) that handing the job over to a rookie can be detrimental to their long term development.
Sure, every player is different. There are countless examples of rookies that stepped in and immediately started and excelled. I personally like young guys having to earn their jobs, learning what it means to fight and compete for a starting job and how to develop the proper mentality.
Add into that the fact that point guard is the most difficult position to acclimate to in the NBA. The game speeds up dramatically at this level. Offenses are more elaborate. Your opponents are stronger, faster and smarter. Your familiarity with your own teammates takes a while to come along. A point guard needs to know every single strength and weakness from position 1-15 on the roster (including his own).
There is no doubt in my mind the George Hill signing is going to end up being one of the key free agency signings the Kings have made in quite some time.
Then there is Z-Bo and Vincanity!
Two multiple time NBA All-Stars with loads of playoff and LIFE experience. Something the 9 guys on this Kings roster with 2 years or less of NBA experience absolutely do not have. They will be able to guide them through the ins and outs of what it means to be a professional off the court, in the locker room and also guide them through the lumps, bumps and bruises they’ll go through physically and mentally on the court.
Seriously…can you think of a better big man mentor in the NBA to show Skal Labissière, Willy Cauley-Stein and Georgios Papagiannias the toughness and grit they need to be successful in this league than Zach Randolph??
Go ahead. Take a minute….
Yeah I didn’t think so!
But maybe you’re thinking I’m too close to this and just seeing this whole offseason through purple colored glasses!
Here’s what David Aldridge had to say…
We’ve had several guests on The Drive over the past two weeks to talk draft and free agency and not one of them has poked any holes in the Kings’ offseason moves. We capped that off this morning when The Vertical’s Chris Mannix joined us.
Yep! That about sums things up. It’s like proof unicorns do exist when you can get Chris Mannix to give some legitimate love to the direction Vlade Divac and his front office are taking this organization.
Having said all that I NEED to stress Kings fans right now the meaning of patience!
The Kings have what could end up being extremely valuable pieces and long term building blocks. But they are starting from the bottom. They have lots of work to do. They have to develop these kids. They have to experience the ass whoopings, the demoralizing and embarrassing losses and the humbling moments that will make them grow.
Golden 1 Center is sold out for a watch party so fans can see the Kings take on the L.A. Lakers Monday July 10th in just their 3rd game of NBA Summer League. THAT is how excited fans are about this young group and the direction of their team.
I am certainly not going to try and stop them or put a damper on that excitment. I will however provide some helpful tips to ensure Kings fans get the maximum enjoyment out of Summer League!
- Keep in mind these players have a few practices under their belt together and don’t know each other or their coaching staff well.
- What you see in July is NOT what you will see in October or even in April.
- The coaching staff will keep things as simple and paired down as possible but will also put these guys in some challenging situations in order to help the staff get a better grip on who and what they’re working with.
- Summer League is notorious for guys trying to prove themselves and usually will not resemble the type of team basketball we all want to see once the NBA season officially kicks off.
- IF a guy or two comes out and crushes it don’t jump to conclusions that they will be a 10-time All-Star!
- Also, if a guy or two you had high hopes for struggles don’t immediately come to the conclusion they will be a bust.
- Remember these kids will be playing against other youngins! News flash: LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are not playing so keep performances in perspective.
- Don’t name your starting lineup in July…please I beg of you!
- Lastly – enjoy the process. I truly believe you’re all in on the beginning of something special in Sacramento.
- #SacramentoProud always!