Kings

Shiners and Decliners Headline Kings Summer League

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The Sacramento Kings finished 5-2 across seven games this summer. Keegan Murray shined in the California Classic and the rest of the team played with fluidity on both ends of the floor in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Takeaways

After growing defensively in last season’s playoff series against the Warriors, the Kings know their defense must be even better to advance further in the postseason.

Summer League head coach Luke Loucks has been repeatedly emphasizing “physicality” on both ends of the floor. They played with a high level of toughness on defense and showed flashes of it on offense.

Loucks implemented some of the main team’s plays. Most of which included dribble handoffs and playmaking out of the post.

Everyone bought into the same mentality and played selfless basketball all summer long.

Keegan Murray

Grade: A

Keegan was spectacular in Sacramento’s California Classic, the only two games he played in.

The 22-year-old manifested that he has a higher ceiling than most expected. Murray’s impressive shotmaking and offensive versatility resembled Milwaukee All-Star Khris Middleton.

In the two games, he averaged 35 points on 51.4 FG% and 45 3P%. He also had 2.0 blocks and 1.5 steals a game to go along with 26 free-throw attempts.

A scout even said that Keegan’s jump from last season to this summer is very similar to what they saw from Kawhi Leonard.

He still needs to improve his foot speed on defense and his physicality when rebounding. But if he can become the player the front office expects, Sacramento will be contending for an NBA championship very soon.

Colby Jones

Grade: B-

Colby Jones… more like Josh Hart?

It is hard to know how a second-round pick like Colby will perform. The 6’6″ guard put up 10.0 points (39% FG), 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

What we learned is he excels at grabbing rebounds and making the extra pass with his already NBA-ready body. Jones needs to improve his shooting but can impact the game with his high basketball IQ and defense right away.

To be productive on offense, he needs to make a decision as soon as he catches the ball.

When he was decisive on the catch, he either drove to the lane with confidence, made the right pass, or attempted a confident-looking shot.

Kessler Edwards

Grade: C

Acquired in the middle of last season, Edwards got occasional minutes when Coach Mike Brown wanted him to guard players like Devin Booker and Jayson Tatum.

This summer he was dominant defensively, but on the other hand was abysmal on offense. He was asked to create for himself and as a result he forced up a lot of shots and was inconsistent with his jumper.

To earn minutes in this Kings rotation, Kessler has to make the three-ball at a good rate, about 37% or higher.

Jordan Ford

Grade: B+

The former Folsom standout made a name for himself the last couple of weeks. Ford made a very strong case to earn either a two-way or standard NBA contract with the team. He averaged 16.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game on 49/32/75 splits.

Ford prioritizes getting his teammates involved but can also score at all three levels, as he shot above 40% from three in the G League.

At 25 years old, he fits the Kings current timeline and would provide depth at point guard behind De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell and Malik Monk.

Keon Ellis

Grade: A-

Keon showcased his defensive instincts in Las Vegas, swiping 3.3 steals a game which ranked third among all players. He also shot 38% from deep on the 20+ threes he attempted.

His knack for disrupting passing lanes and evolving catch-and-shoot ability gives him a real chance to crack the Kings’ rotation soon.

Neemias Queta

Grade: C+

The one and only Portuguese player in the NBA had a fairly disappointing couple of games.

Although his summer ended sooner than others due to an injury, he was surprisingly inconsistent. He would score 15 and grab 11 rebounds one game, and then struggle to score eight and get seven rebounds in another.

However, Queta flashed the ability to make plays out of the post and even took over the end of the game against the Hawks.

Neemias had some struggles but ultimately he was the MVP Runner-Up and Defensive Player of the Year in the G League last season. The Sacramento Kings and many other teams still believe in him.

Jalen Slawson

Grade: D+

Slawson’s final game was his best, playing 29 minutes and tallying 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. When he succeeded on the court he played at his own methodical pace, showing shades of Kyle Anderson.

The rest of the summer, however, he looked overwhelmed and overmatched by the athleticism of his opponents.

Jalen still has the potential to be an NBA player because of how smart and controlled he is, but will have to adapt to the speed of the game.

Mike Daum

Grade: A

The biggest surprise for the Summer Kings was Mike Daum, a 27-year-old forward that’s been playing overseas for over five years.

Daum stretched the floor for the Kings, putting up 10 points per game while shooting 35% from deep.

He might not make an NBA roster, but was a key addition to the team. It allowed guys like Colby Jones to share the floor with a true professional as a teammate.

Eyes Move to Making 2nd Straight Postseason

This summer was another success for the Sacramento Kings organization. It gives them positive momentum heading into the 2023-2024 season for them to prove their first playoff berth in 17 seasons was no fluke.

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About Zach Schmidt

Business student from Sacramento with a passion for sports.

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