NBA Gameday: Skal, Kings close home slate against Suns

NBA Gameday: Skal, Kings close home slate against Suns

SACRAMENTO -- With the 2016-17 campaign nearing a conclusion, the Sacramento Kings close down the inaugural season at Golden 1 Center Tuesday evening against the Phoenix Suns.

The Kings have dropped two straight, but they made a game of it Sunday against the Houston Rockets. Seven players scored in double figures for Sacramento, including 25 from rookie Skal Labissiere and an impressive 20-point, 11-assist performance from veteran point guard Ty Lawson.

Phoenix has rattled off two straight wins after dropping the previous 13 games. Like the Kings, they have turned to their young core down the stretch, featuring eight players 24-years-old or younger. Rookies Tyler Ulis and Marquese Chriss start alongside 20-year-old budding star Devin Booker and young bigs Alex Lin and T.J. Warren.


Kings by 4.5


Kings: 31-49, third place Pacific

Suns: 24-57, fifth place Pacific


Skal Labissiere vs. Marquese Chriss: The Rematch -- Labissiere came off the Kings bench and dropped a career-high 32 points on 11-of-15 shooting and added 11 rebounds in less than 30 minutes of action the last time these two faced off. Chriss shot 6-of-14 from the field for 17 points and added seven rebounds and five blocks in 32 minutes, but he was clearly overshadowed. These two will have plenty of battles against one another over the next decade in the NBA.


Kings: Arron Afflalo, Tyreke Evans and Kosta Koufos are out (rest), and Darren Collison (migraine headache) is also out.

Suns:  C Tyson Chandler and PG Eric Bledsoe shut down for the remainder of the season. PG Brandon Knight (back spasms) out, Leandro Barbosa (hamstring) out.


Sacramento leads the season series between these two teams 2-1 after beating the Suns on their home floor 107-101 last month. Phoenix leads the all-time series 131-89 and they hold an 84-50 advantage during the Sacramento-era.


“There’s a level of experience that you have to have. They’re playing at a doctoral thesis level and here is a young guy in his first year and you’re trying to spit some words out of what coverage we should be in and it just takes experience. It’s not that they’re trying to mess up - they are trying to do the best they can.” -Dave Joerger on his young club following the loss to Houston

Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings


Patience needed for young and inexperienced Kings

The Sacramento Kings are attempting to do something rarely seen in the NBA. They’ve paired four first round selections from the 2016 NBA Draft with another five rookies for the 2017-18 season. They’ll open the season with nine players with one year of NBA experience or less and three others with two years in the league or fewer if you include two-way contracts.

Veterans Vince Carter (40), Zach Randolph (36), George Hill (31), Garrett Temple (31) and Kosta Koufos (28) push the average age of the Kings to 26.1. According to RealGM, they’ll enter the 2017-18 season tied for the 15th youngest roster in the league.

If you remove the veterans, the Kings youthful core averages less than 22 years of age. But age doesn’t tell the entire story.

Entering his third NBA season, Willie Cauley-Stein has seen action in 141 of a possible 164 games. On the current roster, he might as well get lumped in with the veterans.

Buddy Hield donned a Kings uniform for 25 games last season after coming over in a midseason trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. He played 82 games in total between the two clubs, which is five more combined contests than his fellow 2016 draft mates Skal Labissiere (33 games), Georgios Papagiannis (22 games) and Malachi Richardson (22 games) played in.

Sacramento selected three first rounders in the 2017 NBA Draft, including De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles. They also landed point guard Frank Mason III with an early second round pick and convinced 25-year-old former first rounder Bogdan Bogdanovic to leave the European game behind and join the club.

Without bringing two-way players Jack Cooley (16 games) and JaKarr Sampson (147 games) into the discussion, the Kings have a major experience issue. They’ll walk into the season with 10 players having a combined 300 games of NBA experience and 223 of those games were played by Cauley-Stein and Hield.  

Sacramento’s veteran group has appeared in 3718 regular season contests. Dave Joerger will have no choice but to turn to the group for plenty of minutes as the Kings’ young players learn on the fly.

Patience is necessary. Vlade Divac and his team have assembled a lot of talent, but they will need time to develop. Joerger has a strong staff in place, including Elston Turner, Bryan Gates, Duane Ticknor, Bob Thornton, Jason March and Larry Lewis. Phil Ricci was also added to the staff as a player development coach this season with the influx of young players.

Even with an expanded staff, there is no way Joerger can fit all 10 of his youngsters into the rotation. They’ll need playing time to develop and there is a good chance that some of these freshman and sophomore players will spend time with Darrick Martin and the Reno Bighorns.  

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'


DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

Some professional athletes take a stand by kneeling on the sidelines or raising a fist into the air. Some write succinct tweets expressing their dismay with the current political climate in the United States of America. Others just get right to the point with a poignant off the cuff statement to a waiting camera.

Former Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has certainly mastered the art of the cryptic tweet, but he’s also never been one to shy away from a direct question when asked. When an inquiry was thrown his direction about confederate statues in New Orleans and his home state of Alabama, Cousins was brief with his words, but very clear.

"Take all them mother****ers down," Cousins told TMZ while navigating a security line at the airport. "Take 'em all down.”

Cousins may not have chosen the most eloquent words, but his point of view is shared by plenty of others. He isn’t the first athlete to take a stand with regards to race in America over the last week as racial tensions have spilled out into the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia. Social media is filled with professional athletes adding their thoughts to the conversation.

The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made it clear that he will not visit the White House and President Donald Trump, a visit most teams make following an NBA championship.

"Nah, I won't do that," the 8-time All-Star told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.”

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant continued. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Garrett Temple has used Twitter to make his thoughts known as well. Recently named the Kings’ Players Voice Teammate of the Year by the National Basketball Players Association, Temple has used his position as an NBA player to speak out multiple times.

Over the last week, he’s fielded questions and had plenty of discussions through social media on the issues of race and equality. His Twitter timeline is littered with thoughtful replies and some not so thoughtful ideas as well. Plenty of fans thanking him for using his position to further the conversation and of course, there is the occasional, “stick to sports” comment.

Agree or disagree, today’s athletes have huge platforms to share their opinions. From Cousins to Temple, there are varying degrees of engagement, but the time of players staying out of the discussion is long gone.