Kings Hope “Baby” Championship Becomes Springboard


So what if it’s only a Summer League Championship?

The Sacramento Kings are hoping it’s a springboard to better things.

For a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in 15 seasons, any championship is cause to celebrate.  Do we shoot off fireworks?  Do we have a big party?  Should there be a parade downtown?

Well, there was no parade downtown.  No big celebration.  But you can’t blame Kings fans for being a little “giddy” for feeling a little pride in their basketball team, even if it was only a Summer League win.  Now they only hope the Kings can snap that long playoff drought.

The key to the young Kings success in Summer League was — brace yourself and sit down — DEFENSE!  Yes, the team that was one of the worst defensive teams in NBA history last season made a big statement.  The Kings are gonna play some defense this season!

Defense was certainly one of the biggest reasons they took Davion Mitchell with the ninth pick in this year’s draft.

Mitchell was certainly as advertised during the summer– a tenacious, relentless defender.  His nickname is “Off Night” because opponents he guards usually have off nights!  We certainly saw that.

In the Summer League championship game in which the Kings annihilated the Celtics 100-67, Mitchell put the clamps on Boston’s Payton Pritchard.  Pritchard was one of just two players in Summer League up to that point to average at least 20 points per game while shooting at least 50% from the field, but then he ran into “Off Night”.

Mitchell has drawn comparisons to former NBA player Gary Payton and current Celtics guard Marcus Smart for the way he defends.  He is quick, strong, feisty and just works hard.

Sacramento Bee Kings beat writer Jason Anderson had a great line in his game writeup – “When it was over, Pritchard had to check his shorts to see if Mitchell was still in there, but Mitchell was at center court with his team, hoisting the championship trophy.”

Give credit to Monte McNair and the Kings’ front office.  After stealing Tyrese Haliburton with the twelfth pick last year, they might have done it again this year by nabbing Mitchell at nine– the soon-to-be rookie was named co-MVP of Summer League by a media panel.

Summer League is one thing.  The NBA is something entirely different.  Summer League success doesn’t always translate to NBA success, but the Kings are really excited about Mitchell and expect him to make a big impact.

As the Kings head into the 2021-22 season, winning a summer title is certainly no guarantee the Kings will turn around their fortunes in the regular season.  The Kings won a Summer League title in 2014, too, but still haven’t been to the playoffs in 15 years.

Only time will tell if it will be different this time, but for Kings fans, there is optimism.

It’s just “baby steps”, coming off a “Baby” championship.

Follow us on Twitter @Kings_Lead for the latest Kings news and insight. 

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About Dave Andrade

Sports Director, KRCR-TV Redding 1968-81; Shasta College football & basketball play-by-play; marketing rep; retired, but still doing a daily sports report & commentary for KKXS 96.1 FM, Redding; contributor at Kings Lead

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