Young Kings Impress in California Classic Debut

Jul 3, 2018, 12:00 AM | Updated: Jan 4, 2019, 11:30 am
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

by Matt George – Sports 1140 KHTK Reporter

Monday night’s California Classic opener between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers had buzz around it that has been building for the better part of a year. After drafting and essentially red-shirting Harry Giles last season, Kings fans finally got their first glimpse at the young man that was once considered the top high school prospect in the country.

On top of that, Duke star and 2nd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III, took his first bumps in a Kings uniform in front of a sellout crowd inside of the Golden 1 Center. The Kings rolled out their starting lineup of Frank Mason, De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Bagley and Giles and the “future” of the franchise took form.

It didn’t take long for the already excited Kings fans to become unglued. Within minutes, the Kings executed a soft alley-oop to Giles in transition followed by one of the nastiest dunks in the short history of the Golden 1 Center.

18 points, six rebounds and three blocks in his NBA debut is not a bad stat line for the rookie out of Duke. His athleticism was on display on both ends of the floor, bailing out his questionable defensive positioning with quick recovery and blocked shots. Fellow Blue Devil Giles finished with 13 points and and three rebounds, shooting 60% for the night.

“I played better than I thought I would and felt better than I thought I would,” Giles said following his debut, “Toughness I can bring every day. I’m always going to bring that fight and grit”.

“It felt good to finally play and get out there with my teammates,” said Bagley, “The pace of the game was a little different. A lot more things to remember. I’m just having fun, doing it all, and (enjoying) the process”.

De’Aaron Fox’s performance was extremely encouraging, showing that, despite only playing for one season, his game is beyond the average talent in summer league. Fox led the Kings with 23 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals in 30 minutes. Arguably most exciting about the entire evening was Fox’s ability to push the tempo, leading his team effectively in the fast break. The Kings, who were near the bottom of the league in pace last season, were in desperate need of a tempo change.

“I worked on my game this summer. I get to the basket at the blink of an eye. As long as I’m making shots and get guys to go over screens, (my teammates) are going to have the easiest buckets or their lives” Fox said.

The only major disappointment of the evening was the play of Justin Jackson, who only managed five points on six shots and one rebound in nearly 33 minutes. The small forward position still appears to be a massive hole for this Kings team, who was hoping to see significant growth out of the former ACC Player of the Year.

While wins and losses don’t mean much more than bragging rights during the summer, fans left the Golden 1 Center happy after Sacramento topped Los Angeles 98-93. Another capacity crowd is expected tomorrow night, when the Kings host the Golden State Warriors for day two of the California Classic.

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Young Kings Impress in California Classic Debut