De'Aaron Fox

And-Ones: Sophomores, Future Rankings, Christon

The 2017 NBA Draft class has thus far turned out to be one of the most impressive crops in recent memory. In addition Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum, poised freshmen that played significant roles in the playoffs, there are also a handful of lottery picks with tremendous opportunity for future growth.

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz (Insider) recently profiled a few players from last year’s draft class who showed impressive glimpses during their first year in the pros. Schmitz writes that Lonzo Ball deviated from what made him great at UCLA. If he’s to thrive with the Lakers he’ll need to step up as a spot-up shooter. Last year, the guard spent too much time trying to create in pick-and-roll situations.

Schmitz also discusses Josh Jackson, Dennis Smith and De’Aaron Fox, opting to exclude Markelle Fultz due to the unique circumstances of his rookie year.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Sorry Hornets fans, the Charlotte franchise has been ranked as the team with the bleakest forecast over the next three seasons. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider) writes that turnover in the front office, coupled with limited financial flexibility, won’t bode well for the team heading forward.
  • At a time when journalists scrap to be the first media personalities to tweet about player movement in the NBA, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has broken the news for two recent sportswriter job changes. He, alongside CJ McCollum form the most journalistic backcourt the NBA has ever seen.
  • After playing one season in China and Puerto Rico, former Thunder guard Semaj Christon is open to playing in Europe, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets.

Kings Notes: Giles, Free Agents, Summer League, Fox

Harry Giles is “on a mission” as he prepares for his first game action since being drafted by the Kings last year, relays James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Giles will suit up for Sacramento’s summer league team, which begins play Monday in the California Classic.

“It’s game day!” Giles told the media after today’s mini-camp. “I remember this time last year, I said, ‘My time is coming.’ My time is now and I’ve got to go attack it.”

The Kings took a cautious approach with Giles, who suffered ACL tears in both knees while in high school. Team officials have marveled over Giles’ court vision and passing, Ham adds, and have been impressed by the intensity and physicality he has displayed in workouts. He is expected to have a significant role next season if he can remain healthy.

There’s more today from Sacramento:

  • The Kings should resist the temptation to make an immediate splash in free agency, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, who advises the team to save its money for 2019. The organization has about $17MM in cap space, and Jones states it should avoid a repeat of last year with the signing of veterans Zach Randolph, George Hill and Vince Carter. The Kings are rumored to have interest in Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker and Chicago’s Zach LaVine, but both are restricted free agents and would require more moves to balance the roster if they come to Sacramento. The Kings, who don’t have a first-round pick in next year’s draft, appear willing to take on a bad contract to acquire one.
  • De’Aaron Fox will participate in the California Classic, but isn’t on the Kings’ roster for the Las Vegas Summer League, according to Jon Schultz of The Sacramento Bee.
  • The Kings are hoping to increase their tempo next season, and Fox has been studying Chris Paul in an effort to get ready, Jones writes in a separate story. Speed was among Fox’s greatest attributes in college, but he rarely got to show it off during his rookie season on the league’s lowest scoring team. Fox has been watching film of Paul and has talked to Bobby Jackson and Peja Stojakovic, who both played with Paul early in his career. “Even at a young age, in his rookie year, he demanded [his teammates play fast],” Fox said. “He doesn’t just run by himself and nobody runs with him; he forces his teammates to do it with him, and that’s one thing I admire about him, he’s a true leader.”

Kings Notes: Inferiority, Fox, Caboclo, Hield

The Kings are about the most consistent franchise in the NBA over the last decade. However, for the unfortunate fans in Sacramento, the Kings have been consistently inferior, writes Phillip Reese of The Sacramento Bee.

On pace to win about 25 games this season, the Kings are right on target to finish in a familiar position in the standings. Sacramento has won between 22 and 33 games for the last eight seasons, and no other team has a lower standard deviation in wins or end-of-season rankings so far this decade.

Practically speaking, the Kings have finished no better than 21st and no worse than 28th, while teams like the Cavaliers (first – 29th), Magic (second – 30th), and Lakers (third – 29th) have finished both worse and far better. The next most-consistent team? The Spurs, whose superior consistency has seen then finish as high as first and no worse than ninth since the 2009/10 season.

There’s more out of Sacramento:

  • Known for being super quick, rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox is using that speed to catch up with his contemporaries after a slow start to his rookie season, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Often cited as a poor shooter, Fox’s shooting percentage (41.0) is now actually higher than fellow lottery picks/point guards Dennis Smith Jr. (39.4), Lonzo Ball (35.6), and Frank Ntilikina (35.0).
  • In another article for The Sacramento Bee, Voisin writes about how newly-acquired forward Bruno Caboclo, 22, received a strong endorsement from former NBA player and fellow Brazilian, Tiago Splitter“Bruno is a great player,” said Splitter. “He needs a team that gives him confidence, that lets him play and has some good leaders. He’s a good shooter, has long arms, and has a feel for the game. He’s an NBA player for sure. I wish him the best.”
  • For the second year in a row, Buddy Hield (Bahamas) represented Team World in the Rising Stars Challenge last night, and his team-high 29-point performance was capable in part because of a confidence surge after being moved to the bench, reports Erik Horne of The Oklahoman“I think coach making the decision to bring me off the bench was probably the best decision,” Hield said. “I think it’s good for me, to help me, slow down a little bit and let the game come to me.”

Pacific Notes: Teodosic, Davis, Fox

There’s no exact timetable for Milos Teodosic‘s return, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. The seasoned Clippers rookie is making progress after missing Saturday’s contest but remains sidelined with the same injury that plagued him earlier this season.

Teodosic missed 22 games with the plantar fascia injury from October to mid-December but managed to work his way back into a significant role in the Clippers rotation.

On the season, Teodosic has averaged 8.4 points and 5.2 assists in 24.4 minutes per game for the Clippers.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division tonight:

  • The Warriors always tend to have an eye on their major long-term goals, kicking around possible acquisition targets that they could pursue when the time is right. Tim Kawakami of The Athletic writes that one of those targets could be Anthony Davis.
  • Rookie guard De’Aaron Fox has made a conscious effort to be more aggressive to take advantage of his speed, specifically in half-court sets. As Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes, the decision paid off in a recent Kings‘ win. “I was just able to create and if it wasn’t my assist it was a hockey assist – so it was a pass and another pass. Just trying to be able to start the offense and get the defense moving.
  • The Suns won’t be welcoming big man Alan Williams back to the lineup before February but the 24-year-old is still heavily involved with his team. Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic writes that Williams has become a very noticeably enthusiastic supporter of his teammates.

Injury Notes: Sixers, Harden, Kings, Okafor

Joel Embiid is considered doubtful for Wednesday’s game, and Markelle Fultz isn’t quite ready to get back on the court yet, but the Sixers got some positive news on both players this week. As Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia details, there was some concern on Sunday night that Embiid had suffered a broken right hand, but x-rays were negative and he believes he’s dealing instead with a sprain.

Meanwhile, Fultz hasn’t played since October, but he appears to be inching toward a return. The club announced today that 2017’s first overall pick has been cleared to “begin the final stage of his return-to-play program.” The press release was light on specifics, but barring setbacks, it sounds like it shouldn’t be much longer before we see Fultz back in the Sixers’ lineup.

Here are a few more injury notes and updates from around the NBA:

  • We know James Harden will be out for at least two weeks with a hamstring strain, but his exact recovery timetable remains unclear. Speaking today to reporters, including Hunter Atkins of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link), Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni suggested that Harden could miss up to four weeks. In an Insider-only piece for ESPN, Kevin Pelton examines how Harden’s absence will affect the Rockets, the NBA, and the star guard’s MVP chances.
  • As one Kings guard gets healthy, another one goes on the shelf. According to a press release from the club, De’Aaron Fox will return on Tuesday after a two-week absence, but Frank Mason will miss at least the next week with a heel contusion.
  • Third-year center Jahlil Okafor is expected to make his home debut for the Nets on Wednesday, as head coach Kenny Atkinson confirmed to reporters on Monday (link via Alex Labidou of NBA.com). Okafor, acquired by Brooklyn nearly a month ago, wasn’t initially ready for regular minutes after having barely played for Philadelphia this season. However, the Nets are ready to get him back on the court and to start increasing his workload, says Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
  • After missing seven games due to a groin injury, Pistons guard Avery Bradley is set to return to action on Wednesday, writes Ansar Khan of MLive.com. “It was lingering over a few weeks, but now I feel better, I feel like I can go out there and give my all,” Bradley said.

Kings Notes: Carter, Labissiere, Veterans, Fox

Forty-year-old Vince Carter is sticking to his plan to play one more season after this one, he tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Carter had his best game since joining the Kings with 24 points Wednesday against the Cavaliers, the most points scored by someone 40 or older in less than 30 minutes since 1988.

The performance stood out for Carter, who is playing less than 15 minutes a night after leaving a playoff team in Memphis to sign with Sacramento. He understands that he doesn’t fit well with a rebuilding organization and isn’t surprised to hear his name mentioned in trade rumors.

“It’s a business. … I just have to do my job for what it says on the front of my jersey,” Carter said. “I kind of go from there. I am still going to be me. I am still going to play my best game within the confines of what the coach wants and asks from me. You’ll stress yourself out worrying about what is being said. There are always going to be rumors out there. That’s just how it goes in the league and it’s more prevalent now, whether it’s a superstar, two-way player or you’re a guy that has been around five years.”

There’s more news out of Sacramento:

  • Coach Dave Joerger is ignoring criticism of the way he has juggled the lineup as he searches for the right combinations, relays Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Joerger has used 14 starting lineups in 35 games and occasionally makes changes right before tip-off. Among the players affected is Skal Labissiere, who sat out three straight games before starting Friday night. The second-year power forward scored 10 points in the first quarter, but didn’t re-enter the game until the second half and played just 16 minutes total.
  • Of the Kings’ veterans, Zach Randolph and George Hill are most likely to remain with the team next season, Jones writes in a question-and-answer column. Both players signed as free agents over the summer and have contracts that run though the end of 2018/19. Randolph will make nearly $11.7MM next season before heading into free agency, while Hill will earn $19MM with a non-guaranteed $18MM for the following season. Jones expects Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos to exercise their player options and try to join a contender, while Carter’s contract expires after this season.
  • Rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox, out since December 14 with a partial tear in his right quadriceps muscle, was a limited participant in practice today, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV in Sacramento. Fox was shooting and running at full speed, but is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Curry, Bell, Fox

The business side of the NBA may be distracting the Lakers as the trade deadline draws near, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Coach Luke Walton criticized his team’s effort after Saturday’s loss to Portland and suggested that some players were “pouting” on the bench. Veteran center Andrew Bogut, who was part of two financial-related trades last season, said that reaction is understandable.

“Pouting? Possibly. Guys are frustrated,” Bogut said. “There are some injuries right now, different rotations. Guys are frustrated, obviously. You would be lying to say that there are guys that are not frustrated on this team. Everyone knows what is going on with the salary-cap situation next season and all that. That is just distractions that we can’t let affect us. That is part of the league, the business decisions that front offices and coaches make. So if that is distracting guys, that is going to be like that your whole career. That is just the nature of this league.”

The Lakers reportedly want to clear enough cap room to offer two maximum contracts in free agency, which means players with high salaries beyond this season such as Luol Deng and Jordan Clarkson are expendable, along with Julius Randle, who will have a $14.5MM cap hold this summer. Bogut said he has discussed the situation with the team’s younger players and urged them to not let it affect their performance.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry is making progress in his return from an injured right ankle, but won’t be ready for the Christmas Day game with the Cavaliers, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Coach Steve Kerr said the “magnitude” of the game can’t affect the team’s judgment, and it would be “completely irresponsible” to let Curry play.
  • The Warriors may have showcased their frontline of the future Friday night when rookie Jordan Bell started at center alongside Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, Slater writes in a separate piece. Bell became the first Golden State center in nearly four years to post a 20-point, 10-rebound game, continuing his impressive start since being taken with the 38th pick. “The reason he had 20 and 10 is because he had so much space,” Kerr said. “The Lakers were playing every passing lane, so he was just roaming and had plenty of easy hoops. We were kind of waiting to see that combination.”
  • Kings rookie De’Aaron Fox has a partial tear in his right quadriceps muscle, the team announced on its website. Fox suffered the injury December 14 and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. The fifth pick in this year’s draft is averaging 9.4 points and 3.7 assists through 29 games.

Pacific Notes: Randle, Monroe, Clippers, Fox

Lakers power forward Julius Randle was displaced from his starting role by Larry Nance Jr. heading into the season, and continued to come off the bench while Nance has been sidelined, with Kyle Kuzma moving into the starting lineup. However, Randle has been making a case for a larger role with his play as of late, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register.

In his last nine games, Randle has averaged 13.4 PPG and 8.2 RPG in just 25.0 minutes per contest. He’s also playing well next to starting center Brook Lopez, a pairing the Lakers weren’t necessarily bullish on entering the 2017/18 campaign.

“It works well with Brook because Brook spaces the floor so he kind of turns into the space ‘four,'” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said. “And Julius can still do all that dynamic rolling hat he does and switch defensively. We’ll keep fooling with that. … They’ve been playing well together, but I also think Julius is playing at a much higher level than he was back then (in training camp), too. There’s a lot of factors that go into it, but they look good together.”

As Randle – who is on a contract year – makes a push for more minutes, let’s round up a few more items from around the Pacific…

  • Greg Monroe has been impressive since making his debut for the Suns earlier this month, as Cody Cunningham of Suns.com details. It’s a small sample, but the veteran center’s per-36 numbers (21.7 points; 12.4 rebounds) and FG% (.619) with Phoenix are the best marks of his career. Monroe’s play could boost his trade value a little, with the Suns potentially looking to move him in the coming weeks or months.
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton takes a closer look at the slumping Clippers, exploring whether it makes sense for the team to trade some potential 2018 free agents before the deadline if their struggles continue. DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Willie Reed are among L.A.’s free-agents-to-be.
  • Kings rookie De’Aaron Fox will have dates against the Suns, Lakers, Celtics, and Sixers circled on his calendar for the foreseeable future, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Those are the four clubs that passed on Fox in the 2017 draft, and the young point guard wants to show them what they missed out on. “I’m happy with my situation, but at the end of the day those teams had the chance and opportunity to draft me,” Fox said.

Kings Notes: Labissiere, Temple, Giles, Fox

Second-year power forward Skal Labissiere is trying to remain upbeat despite a loss of playing time, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Although the Kings are emphasizing youth this season, that’s not true at Labissiere’s position, where veteran Zach Randolph was brought as a free agent and has claimed the starting role.

Labissiere got a rare opportunity with 25 minutes in Saturday’s blowout loss to the Knicks, nearly as many as in the three previous games combined. The 21-year-old said he will continue to be “happy for my teammates” while working to improve.

Labissiere frequently stays after practice to work on post moves, and Randolph believes he has a bright future ahead. “I tell him, ‘Just keep playing,’” Randolph said. “He played good [Saturday]. The kid works hard and that’s all you can do, keep working and that’s what Skal does every day. He puts his time in and he works.”

There’s more today from Sacramento:

  • Garrett Temple has seen a lot of NBA cities while playing for six teams in nine years, and he would like to finish his career with Sacramento, relays James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Temple, 31, has a player option worth $8MM for next season. He is in the middle of a three-year, $24MM deal he signed in the summer of 2016 and said he feels like he has found a home with the Kings. “I can see myself finishing my career here, I can definitely see that,” Temple said. “I have a great relationship with the front office. I have a great relationship with the coaching staff, the fans as well.”
  • The Kings are being cautious with rookie Harry Giles, copying the Sixers’ approach with Joel Embiid, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. “Their injuries are different,” said assistant GM Brandon Williams, who formerly worked for Philadelphia, “and I think there is a little more data on Harry simply because there are not as many navicular fractures [Embiid’s foot injury] than anterior cruciate [ACL] tears. What we learned from Philly probably more than anything was that it was best to be honest and open with your fans. We didn’t want to abuse that relationship. So rather than be coy about what we were doing, we sort of laid it out there.” Giles’ extensive injury history was the reason he dropped to 20th in this year’s draft. He had two ACL tears in high school, then a meniscus tear in his left knee shortly after he arrived at Duke. He will be out of action until at least January, when Sacramento’s medical staff will re-evaluate his condition.
  • The performance of rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox is bringing hope of the start of a new era in Sacramento, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.

Pacific Notes: Ingram, McGee, Deng

Could Brandon Ingram be the next great Lakers closer? Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register thinks so. On a roster filled with promising young player and role-playing veterans, Ingram could be uniquely qualified to step into the role that Kobe Bryant vacated in 2016.

He definitely has the ability and confidence to make those kind of plays,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of Ingram. “He definitely wants it. One hundred percent he wants it. Some people, they say they want it. But in their eyes you can tell they’re just saying it because they’re supposed to say it. Brandon, he truly wants those types of moments.

Teaford cites Ingram’s role in the Lakers’ recent comeback victory against the Wizards, chipping in with 11 points in the fourth quarter and tapping in the game-tying bucket at the end of regulation.

In four games as a Lakers sophomore, Ingram has averaged 15.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Despite his emergence as a valued rotation piece for the Warriors last season, JaVale McGee has been used sparingly thus far in 2017/18. Anthony Slater of The Athletic caught up with the center about his usage. “I don’t feel like I’ve been struggling the first few games,” McGee said. “I haven’t really played a lot, so there’s really no room to struggle. But even from last year, I don’t play a lot during games that go small. All I can really do is work on the things that keep me from playing a lot.
  • In a preview of what could be their backcourt of the future, Kings fans saw Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox connecting in the final minutes of their loss to the Pelicans Thursday. “I can talk to him and tell him about the mistakes I made,” Bogdanovic told Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee. “And hope he can learn without having to make those mistakes.”
  • Having seen just 13 minutes of action so far this season, it’s safe to say that Luol Deng is at the bottom of the Lakers‘ depth chart. An ESPN report states that the veteran will likely continue to draw DNP-CDs.