De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk seem optimistic about JaVale McGee

Oct 11, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: 8:37 am

JaVale McGee #00 of the Dallas Mavericks dunks the ball in the first half against the Chicago Bulls...

DALLAS, TEXAS - APRIL 07: JaVale McGee #00 of the Dallas Mavericks dunks the ball in the first half against the Chicago Bulls at American Airlines Center on April 07, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

The Sacramento Kings were back in their practice facility Tuesday, two days after falling to the Toronto Raptors in Vancouver in their preseason debut.

There was optimism surrounding the impact of JaVale McGee as a roller, a call for continued improvement defensively, and some thoughts on the new guys from guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.

Hopeful theories about the Monk and McGee pick-and-roll duo have been common throughout training camp. It didn’t take long for that to show on the court. Not long after entering the game, they smoothly connected on two consecutive pick-and-rolls.

“Malik [Monk] was one of the best pick-and-roll guys in the league, and JaVale [McGee] is an extreme vertical threat,” Fox said on Tuesday afternoon. “So, I think that does nothing but help, obviously Malik, and it helps us as a whole. When JaVale is rolling, guys have to tag him, or else it’s going to be a lob fest the entire game. That makes our offense even that much more dynamic.”

Alongside Monk and McGee in the second unit were Davion Mitchell, Chris Duarte, and Trey Lyles. Aside from the aforementioned successful two-man game, that grouping will take some time to mesh. The newer additions, JaVale McGee and Chris Duarte, are still adapting and growing comfortable in their new schemes.

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“The way that we move the ball, the way that we cut off of each other, that takes time to build,” Fox said. “So, when you haven’t played with someone, you don’t understand their game just yet. And it takes a little bit to really learn each other, and when guys want to cut, when someone drives where they want you to be, that takes time.”

Monk echoed those sentiments.

“We’re going keep building the chemistry, try to get the second unit more involved,” Monk said. “We got two new players on the second unit, not like the first. When they were playing, the first unit was crisp, and we were a little lackadaisical last game. But we knew, so we’ll figure it out.”

That’s what training camp and preseason are for. Sacramento brought back their eight leaders in total minutes last season, so the continuity exists, but so do some learning curves. Now is an opportunity for players to acclimate to their new coaches, teammates, and schemes without the pressure of wins and losses. Sasha Vezenkov is a perfect example.

Coach Mike Brown was noncommittal when asked if the reigning EuroLeague MVP would be part of the rotation to start the season. It’s not because Vezenkov isn’t impactful, but he needs time to adjust. The latter is also true for JaVale McGee and Chris Duarte.

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Next up on the Kings’ schedule is a trip to Los Angeles to face off against LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Lakers. It’s another opportunity for the group, specifically the second unit, to build their on-court synergy. As a whole, they hope to clean up their transition defense and remain physical without committing fouls.

“For us, just what we’re doing defensively and then the new wrinkles in our offense, try to cut down on turnovers,” Fox said about their upcoming matchup. “Obviously, I think we missed a lot of bunnies last game, not necessarily worried about that, but then defensively the Lakers are one of the best transition teams in the league as well. So, how do we look as far as trying not to commit turnovers, not trying to give them easy baskets, and then, even on a make or missed shot, us getting back and just being able to guard the rim.”

Toronto tallied 24 fast break points against Sacramento while attempting 32 free throws. Yes, the Kings failed to reach the 100-point mark, but there’s no reason for concern offensively. In case you forgot, this is the same team that led the league in offensive rating last season. For them, it’s about continuing to gel as a group, implement new schemes, and progress defensively.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Lakers coverage, beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST on Game Night before a 7 p.m. PST tip-off from Southern California.

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Preseason Schedule

  • Wednesday, October 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Los Angeles Lakers – 7 PM PST (in Anaheim, CA)
  • Sunday, October 15th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Wednesday, October 18th – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Thursday, October 19th – Sacramento Kings vs. Utah Jazz – 7 PM PST

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule

  • Tuesday, October 24th – NBA regular season begins
  • Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM (Season Opener)
  • Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM (Home Opener)

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