Sacramento’s second-year players were all just getting their feet wet in the NBA around this time last year. 365 days later, they’re being called upon to be leaders for Sacramento’s young core heading into the annual summer tournament in Las Vegas.
Buddy Hield. Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere all have their rookie season in the rearview as they look to continue refining their games. The NBA Summer League provides a beneficial opportunity for these four to, not only work on themselves, but to mesh with their four rookie teammates as well.
Even before the action unfolds in Las Vegas, however, the team has gathered for a four-day Mini-Camp at Golden 1 Center to help prepare for the upcoming contests.
Following the first day of Mini-Camp on Monday, Labissiere reflected on his experience from last year and how significant of a building block this time is for the season to come.
“Watching [the rookies] a little bit, I remember being there and how fast things were for me and now things have slowed down a little bit for me,” said Skal. “It’s all about team bonding for us and getting comfortable with each other. We have to use this experience for training camp coming up in the fall. That’s really the main focus of this Summer League is working on things as a team and taking it to Training Camp next season.”
With a slew of young talent making up a significant portion of the Kings roster, camaraderie and chemistry will be key to seeing the youth grow simultaneously. The sophomores have a chance to be at the forefront of fostering this togetherness as they will be the first players from Sacramento to have a chance to work with the new faces – including De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles, and Frank Mason III.
Hield also touched on what he hopes to accomplish during his time working with the rookies and the shift in his role for the summer.
“[I’m going to] try to lead these young guys and show how we’re trying to change the culture here in Sac,” said Hield. “We have nine young guys who are trying to learn the game and know each other better, because we’re going to be playing with each other for a long time. That’s my role now…I’m going to try and be the leader that these young guys need me to be.”
Kings assistant coach Jason March will be at the helm as head coach for Sacramento during Summer League and talked about preparing the players for the 2017-18 season starts now.
“We have guys that are going to play significant minutes for us and it’s our job to prepare them for when they get on the floor with [Coach Joerger],” said March. “Their energy has been incredible. We’ve thrown a lot at them and they’ve done a fairly good job of figuring things out…I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen from these guys so far.”
The Summer League tips off on Friday night with Sactown set to square off with Justin Jackson and the Phoenix Suns. For more information on Sacramento’s schedule and roster, please click here.