Kings

Kings host Spurs looking to stay perfect at home

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Kings host Spurs looking to stay perfect at home

Coming off their first loss of the season, the San Antonio Spurs look to get back to winning against a team they've dominated in recent years.The Sacramento Kings have won both of their home games, but they'll have a tall task trying to make it three in a row Friday night against a Spurs team that has won eight straight at Sleep Train Arena.San Antonio (4-1) has had its way with the Kings (2-3) for the past six seasons, winning 19 of 21 meetings by an average of 8.9 points.It's averaged 106.6 points during its winning streak in Sacramento, and has put up 119.0 points per game while shooting an astounding 56.5 percent in three wins there over the past two seasons.After picking up back-to-back home wins for the first time since a three-game run March 16-20, though, the Kings are out to prove they're no longer a Western Conference doormat."It's a new year, a new team - we're not concerned about last year," Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said. "We're trying to change things around in Sacramento."The Spurs aren't trying to do anything different to one of the league's most successful teams, yet their 4-0 start was a franchise first. They didn't come close to stretching their run to five, though, shooting a season-low 41.1 percent Wednesday in a 106-84 loss to the Clippers at Staples Center."They kicked our (rear end)," coach Gregg Popovich said. "We hung in there for a half, but after that I don't think we played with the same intensity that they did, and it showed."San Antonio shot just 41.1 percent after hitting 48.8 percent during its unbeaten beginning, while the Kings' ability to knock down some open looks has gotten them back on track. Sacramento shot 37.5 percent during its 0-3 start, but it's hit 47.2 percent in its two victories.The Kings shot 48.8 percent in Wednesday's 105-103 win over Detroit."When we started 0-3, it was a reminder for us to relax," said point guard Isaiah Thomas, who's scored 25 points in 42 minutes of Sacramento's two wins. "It's relax if you're playing, relax if you're not. It refers to everything we're doing as a team."After averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in Sacramento's first two games, Cousins has turned it on with three consecutive double-doubles. He finished with 21 points and 11 boards in the Kings' 105-103 victory over Detroit on Wednesday.Cousins averaged 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in the three meetings with San Antonio last season, while Thomas had a career-high 28 points and 10 assists in a 117-112 loss March 28.Marcus Thornton, now coming off the bench, shot 49.0 percent and averaged 18.3 points in three starts against the Spurs last season.San Antonio hasn't lost back-to-back road games in the regular season since Jan. 27 and 29, but it could have trouble Friday if Tony Parker continues to struggle. The four-time All-Star has scored a combined 10 points on 5 of 20 shooting in his last two games.Manu Ginobili, who scored nine points on 2 of 8 shooting in 19 minutes in Los Angeles, continues to work his way back from a back injury that kept him out of the first two games.Perhaps he'll fare better against the Kings. Ginobili has averaged 20.5 points and shot 61.7 percent in his last four games versus Sacramento.One Spur who's had little trouble connecting is Danny Green, who's shooting 56.8 percent overall and has hit 12 of 22 (54.5) from 3-point range. Green, though, might have a tough time finding good looks against a Sacramento team that's defending the arc better than anyone (24.2).Kings forward Thomas Robinson, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, was suspended for two games Thursday for elbowing Detroit's Jonas Jerebko in the neck.NEWS: Kings' Robinson suspended

Kings hire VP of professional development

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AP

Kings hire VP of professional development

It’s been a summer of change for the Sacramento Kings. A roster upheaval has 10 new players vying for minutes once training camp opens on Tuesday. The coaching staff has been bolstered and fresh blood was added to the front office in the form of analytics guru Luke Bornn and assistant general manager Brandon Williams. On Thursday, one more piece to the puzzle was brought in to help develop the team’s young core.

With the hiring of Galen Duncan as the franchise’s new Vice President of the Kings Academy and Professional Development, Sacramento is making a major investment in the future of their team.

According to the team’s official press release, “Duncan is responsible for implementation of the Kings Academy program, a developmental, player-centric curriculum aligning multi-faceted organizational philosophies and ideals to help athletes mature into well-rounded professionals. Under Duncan’s oversight, Kings Academy will augment on-court progress with access to practical material and experiences that help balance on-court priorities and personal responsibilities with opportunities to become impactful contributors in the community.”

After 10 years with the Detroit Lions, Duncan is making the jump to the NBA game. He’s already had a taste of the league, working with the league office as part of the NBA Rookie Transition Program.

With five rookies and another four sophomores on the roster, the Kings are investing in a seasoned mentor and life coach. Armed with a Ph.D. in health psychology from Walden University, Duncan will aid the players in everything from finding an apartment to dealing with the stress of life as a 19-year-old millionaire with no experience paying a bill.

“My passion has always been sports,” Duncan told NBC Sports California. “Sports has done wonderful things for me. I don’t care what level they’re at or how much money they make, I think there is something to learn and I have something to teach.”

With the Lions, he brought incoming rookie classes through everything from etiquette courses to teaching them how to tie ties. His goal is to transform a group of young men into professionals, who just happen to be professional athletes.

It’s not just about making a polished product for the media and general public. Duncan will work with players on a variety of personal issues, including money management, dealing with family and professional on-court performance.

“Unfortunately, sometimes family can be your worst enemy,” Duncan said. “But if structured correctly and if nurtured, I think the education goes beyond just the player. I think you have to educate the family as well about what they’re doing.”

The transition to the NBA game will be interesting for Duncan. He comes from a game where the incoming rookie class can be anywhere from 10-15 players. He hasn’t dealt with 19-year-olds at the NFL level and guaranteed contracts are new as well, but the job is very similar.

Sacramento has always had a support staff to help with the transition to the NBA game, but the addition of Duncan is a new level of commitment by the team. They have a huge group of young players and they are making an investment into their futures and the future of the franchise. It’s a clear step in the right direction.

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

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AP

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

The legend of Bogdan Bogdanovic grows. After another deep run against European competition, the 25-year-old shooting guard is headed for the NBA with plenty of fanfare.

Bogdanovic and his Serbian teammates fell short of the ultimate goal of winning EuroBasket 2017. Goran Dragic and Team Slovenia took home the gold, pulling away from Serbia for the 93-85 victory in the finals on Sunday.

Dragic scored a game-high 35 points in 28 minutes of action, giving Bogdanovic a taste of what the competition will look like on a nightly basis in the NBA. Bogdanovic led Serbia with 22 points on 9-of-21 shooting, but he struggled from long range, knocking down 2-of-11 from behind the international 3-point line.

The Kings acquired Bogdanovic from the Phoenix Suns, along with the rights to Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere for Marquese Chriss on Draft night 2016. Phoenix had failed multiple times in their attempts to bring the sharpshooter over from his Turkish league team after taking him with the 27th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Vlade Divac couldn’t get Bogdanovic to come over for last season, but he found traction early this summer and added the talented wing as part of his July shopping spree.

After dominating league action overseas, Bogdanovic became the highest paid rookie in NBA history, signing a three-year, $27 million deal with Sacramento. He’ll make close to $9.5 million in his first season in the league, more than double what fifth overall pick, De’Aaron Fox, is scheduled to make.   

Bogdanovic walks into a crowded situation in Sacramento. He’ll compete for minutes with Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson at the shooting guard position. Both Hield and Temple worked under coach Dave Joerger for parts of last season, but the Kings front office is very high on their European import.

Listed at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Bogdanovic has great size for the two and he might even be able to shift to the small forward spot for short stints. He is not the defender that Temple is and Hield might have an edge on him as a volume scorer, but Bogdanovic has an advantage over both players in versatility.

He’s a highly skilled offensive weapon that should make an immediate impact on the floor. He spent plenty of time manning the point guard position for Serbia and can even act as the primary ball handler. Bogdanovic is blessed with an extremely high basketball IQ and he’s shown advanced playmaking skills, both with Fenerbahce and the Serbian national team.

Bogdanovic can light it up from distance, having knocked down 43 percent of 3-pointers this season for Fenerbahce, but he’s not just a catch and shoot player. He hit 50 percent from the field overall using a variety of moves to create space. He has a killer crossover and step back jumper, a nice floater in the lane and he is fearless going to the rack.

Where he has the biggest advantage over his competition is in the pick-and-roll. Bogdanovic uses hesitation dribbles and crafty maneuvering to create looks for both himself and his bigs moving to the hoop. He also has nice court vision and is an unselfish distributor.

If Bogdanovic’s European game translates to the NBA, Sacramento has a rotational player and possibly much more. He’ll likely struggle on the defensive end initially, like most rookies coming into the league, but he plays with effort and has solid instincts.

Joerger has a lot to work out during training camp and the early season. He has multiple bodies at every position and the competition for minutes is going to be intense. While it’s early to make predictions, it appears that Bogdanovic will have a substantial role as the Kings enter year one of their rebuild.