Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs 10/20/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The San Antonio Spurs looked to build momentum heading into the season when they faced the Sacramento Kings in a preseason clash on Monday night.

The Spurs’ preseason had been rocky at best, and they faced a tough test from a Kings squad eager to jell before the season gets underway. 

Watch the video for full highlights. 

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Sacramento Kings Make It Official, Pick up Option on Ben McLemore

As of yesterday (10/19) the Sacramento Kings General Manager, Pete D’Alessandro, announced that Ben McLemore’s option has been picked up for the 2015-16 NBA season. Ben McLemore, who averaged over 15 points a game at Kansas, was drafted in the 1st round by the Sacramento Kings. He is clearly a work in progress but Sacramento feels that he is someone worth investing in. On Wednesday, against the Brooklyn Nets, Ben McLemore had scored 22 points in 40 minutes. Also good to mention that he had a 53 shooting percentage for that game. It’s very early to say that he isn’t going to continue the consistency of averaging 20 points per game but it is also very early to count him out. For now, I’ll say that it is a smart move. The post Sacramento Kings Make It Official appeared first on Basketball Bicker.

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5 Questions the Sacramento Kings Need Answered During the Preseason

While the preseason may not count in the standings, it’s still an important time for franchises like the Sacramento Kings to gain information that can be used in the regular season. 

It’s a time when questions about the rotation, filling voids from the previous season and integrating new players into the system can be worked on. For the Kings, they need to find answers in all three categories.

The team needs to figure out how to divvy up minutes between a packed yet inexperienced backcourt. There needs to be a balance between playing the best players but not at the cost of youngsters who are still in the developmental stages of their career.

The same can be said of a power forward position that has many options, although more experienced, who need to be woven into the game plan.

There are questions about the offense, particularly replacing the scoring that was lost when Isaiah Thomas moved on to the Phoenix Suns. Along with that comes integrating new players into the system who were brought in to help fill that void.

All of those things will be important in determining how the regular season plays out. So while the preseason doesn’t count, it’s far from meaningless.

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5 Questions the Sacramento Kings Need Answered During the Preseason

While the preseason may not count in the standings, it’s still an important time for franchises like the Sacramento Kings to gain information that can be used in the regular season. 

It’s a time when questions about the rotation, filling voids from the previous season and integrating new players into the system can be worked on. For the Kings, they need to find answers in all three categories.

The team needs to figure out how to divvy up minutes between a packed yet inexperienced backcourt. There needs to be a balance between playing the best players but not at the cost of youngsters who are still in the developmental stages of their career.

The same can be said of a power forward position that has many options, although more experienced, who need to be woven into the game plan.

There are questions about the offense, particularly replacing the scoring that was lost when Isaiah Thomas moved on to the Phoenix Suns. Along with that comes integrating new players into the system who were brought in to help fill that void.

All of those things will be important in determining how the regular season plays out. So while the preseason doesn’t count, it’s far from meaningless.

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Sacramento Kings Season Preview: Team Projections

It’s just about half way through NBA preseason, and isportsweb is back for its second round of season previews. In our first preview, we picked apart the Kings roster. Now, it’s time to create a bold forecast of just how successful this young Sacramento team will be in 2015.
The Deep Pacific
The Pacific division is extremely competitive, let alone the entire Western Conference. The Golden State Warriors, L.A. Clippers, and Phoenix Suns are all on the brink of being surefire playoff bets. Due to the combative nature of the Pacific division, the Kings will have to try to compete on a much larger scale that is the Western conference. It is unlikely for Sacramento to overtake the Warriors or the Clippers this season. In order for the Kings to have a legitimate chance at the playoffs, they will need to surpass the Suns for that three-spot.
Best Case Scenario
In a perfect world, the Kings take the eight-seed and make the playoffs. Over 30% of the Kings wins last season came against teams that made the playof

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Realistic Expectations for Nik Stauskas’ Rookie Season with the Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings selected shooting guard Nik Stauskas with the No. 8 pick in the 2014 draft. Now they need to find the best way to utilize him in what figures to be a crowded backcourt. 

Of course, the team selected another shooting guard the year before in Ben McLemore. McLemore‘s presence alone made the position an intriguing one to watch. It’ll be interesting to see whether the two youngsters can develop with what’s likely to be some sort of timeshare. 

Veteran guard Ramon Sessions was also signed by the Kings this offseason. While Sessions has been primarily a point guard during his seven-year career, he’s also logged time at the 2. His presence could also have an effect on the way Stauskas‘ rookie season shakes out. 

With all things considered, what type of role is Stauskas looking at as a rookie, and in light of playing time, what type of production can the Kings expect from him? 

Those are the two questions we’ll examine. 

 

Stauskas‘ Skill Set

Before we look at the other players on the roster, let’s look at what Stauskas brings to the table. After all, his ability will be a major determining factor in how much he plays and how productive he can be. Regardless of who’s in front of him, the Kings will find time for the rookie if he’s effective. Likewise, his playing time will wane if he doesn’t maximize his opportunities.

In way of his skill set, one thing is clear of Stauskas: He can shoot the ball. No wonder he’s a shooting guard.

The 20-year-old knocked down 44.1 percent of his three-pointers during his two years at Michigan. It wasn’t like he did it in a small sample size either. 

Stauskas played 75 games at Michigan and launched 390 three-point attempts. That averages out to more than five three-point attempts per game. 

What’s interesting about Stauskas, however, is his effectiveness from all areas of the three-point arc. Unlike some players who stick to only one or two areas for their production, Stauskas is lethal from nearly everywhere. 

Just take a look at his college shot chart, via ShotAnalytics.com. 

As you can see, there’s red bordering the whole arc, with the exception of straight away. The shot chart also indicates Stauskas utilized each of the areas with frequency. 

While his shooting touch is a nice attribute, there’s more to it than that. For one, Stauskas isn’t simply a spot-up shooter. He can knock down shots off the dribble as well. Here’s what Draft Express’ Matt Kamalsky wrote about the guard’s shooting versatility and how he stacked up against other guards in his draft class:

“Scoring a sample leading 1.156 points per-jump shot, Stauskas was tremendously consistent both off the catch (49% FG%) and off the dribble (38% FG%) as a sophomore.”

In addition to his shooting prowess, Stauskas was effective as a ball-handler in Michigan’s offense, specifically in pick-and-roll situations. Once again, here’s Kamalsky with the breakdown:

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Stauskas‘s profile is that he led this group of players with 29.5% of his possessions coming as the ball handler on the pick and roll. Averaging 4.6 pick and roll possessions per-game, up from just 1.5 per-game a year ago, the Canadian shooting guard picked up much of the slack left behind by Jazz point guardTrey Burkein Michigan’s half-court offense while continuing to shoot the ball in spot-up and off screen situations at an All-American level.

That ability means Stauskas can help the team in more ways than one. It should also help him carve out playing time in an increasingly crowded backcourt. 

 

The Competition

There are a couple players likely to impede Stauskas‘ playing time, chiefly McLemore. After being drafted highly a year ago, he was the Kings’ starting 2-guard for much of last season. That experience is what will likely give him the upper hand as the season opens. 

McLemore‘s rookie season was underwhelming in a lot of ways. Most notably his production on offense was lacking. 

The shooting guard only averaged 8.8 points per game and 11.9 points per 36 minutes. He also only knocked down 37.6 percent of his field-goal attempts and 32 percent of his three-pointers. 

However, he did pick it up a bit down the stretch. Over his last 21 games, McLemore averaged 12.4 points on 40.7 percent shooting from the field and 32.7 percent from downtown. He also chipped in 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists over that time frame. 

Perhaps no game was as encouraging as his last of the season, though. In it, he scored a career-high 31 points on 9-of-20 shooting. But what stood out most were his 15 free-throw attempts. In order to be effective, McLemore needs to attack and get to the line. 

As pretty as his jump shot may look, it wasn’t very effective, as McLemore only made 31.5 percent of his jumpers as a rookie. But as Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro told Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling, he likes McLemore‘s progress and thinks he can shoot the ball much better than he showed:

We’re really happy with Ben. We’re seeing continued progress with him. You can see when guys get to their second year, the level of comfort becomes a lot greater. Nik eventually will experience the same thing. But Ben is very different from Nik. Ben is an incredible athlete, and he can shoot the ball very well but struggled last year.

That comfort level may be what pushes McLemore over the top as the season tips off. However, if, as D’Alessandro suggests, Stauskas begins to experience the same thing, it should open up more playing time for him. 

Yet Stauskas also has to compete with Ramon Sessions. 

For the first five years of his career, Sessions was primarily a point guard. That’s changed over the last two seasons, however.

In 2012-13, Sessions played 46 percent of his minutes at the 1 and 54 percent at the 2. Last season, he logged 52 percent of his time at the point and 48 percent at shooting guard. You can expect a similar breakdown with the Kings.

Sessions will get a lot of minutes due to his ability to handle the ball. That’ll allow him to share the court with both point guards and shooting guards.

It’ll also allow the Kings to employ a position-less approach, which they’d like to implement.

What sets Sessions apart is his ability to create for himself and for others. It’s a unique skill set that makes him a true combo guard.

As a scorer, Sessions has averaged 16.4 points per 36 minutes. But it’s how he gets those points that’s noteworthy. 

Take last season as an example. More of Sessions’ field-goal attempts came at the rim (462 of 769) than in any other zone. Yet only 42.2 percent of those were assisted. The rest were opportunities he created for himself. 

That also explains his 6.6 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes.

Yet he can also create for others.

Throughout his career he’s averaged 6.5 assists per 36 minutes and 4.7 per game. That includes last year, where he saw those numbers dip to 5.5 and 4.1, respectively.

That versatility will ensure Sessions gets plenty of playing time. But it will also make it so he can be paired with either Stauskas, McLemore or Darren Collison

In other words, Stauskas won’t be competing for minutes with Sessions as much as he will with McLemore.

 

Stauskas‘ Role and Expectations

There isn’t much to go off in forecasting Stauskas‘ role with the team. About the only thing we do have are summer league stats. They’re somewhat helpful since both the rookie and McLemore were on the team together. 

In the Las Vegas Summer League, McLemore averaged 29.1 minutes per contest, while Stauskas played 28.9 minutes a night. Those two figures were tops on the team. 

What you can glean from that is the Kings tried to give McLemore and Stauskas equal playing time.

However, those figures are problematic for a couple reasons. First, it’s summer league. While the Kings wanted to perform well—and they did, winning the summer league title—they were also focused on development. 

Secondly, both Stauskas and McLemore were starters on that team. That won’t be the case in the regular season. 

But just because they both won’t start, it doesn’t mean they won’t share the court together at times. D’Alessandro indicated as much when the Kings drafted Stauskas

It’s worth mentioning that was prior to the addition of Sessions. That’ll likely cut into their shared court time, but it’s something we’ll see, especially if the Kings pursue their position-less approach. 

Of course, the other component is how Stauskas will fare when he’s on the court. That’s a bit harder to forecast, but we have a few indications. 

For one, we know he has the ability to knock down shots, both off the dribble and in spot-up opportunities. That should provide some scoring for the shooting guard. 

Furthermore, it’s a skill the Kings are lacking, considering they only made 33 percent of their three-pointers in 2014-15. That’ll provide more opportunities than he might otherwise get. 

We also know he’s a decent ball-handler and distributor for a shooting guard. He showed as much running the pick-and-roll at Michigan last year and during the summer league, when he averaged 2.0 assists per night. 

With Sessions and Collison on the team, that won’t be Stauskas‘ primary role, but it’s one he’ll fulfill in spurts. 

So what does all this mean for Stauskas‘ expectations as a rookie?

It means you can expect ample playing time, some scoring and more efficiency than we saw from McLemore a year ago. 

It won’t be a Rookie of the Year-caliber season for Stauskas—he won’t have the same liberty that other rookies like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker may get—but it’ll be a good foundation for what’s looking like a promising career. 

 

Unless noted otherwise, all stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.

What are your expectations for Nik Stauskas? Let me know on Twitter @SimRisso

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Sacramento Kings sign guard Ramon Sessions

Sacramento Kings sign free agent guard Ramon Sessions

      
 

 

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Sacramento Kings sign guard Ramon Sessions (Yahoo Sports)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings have signed guard Ramon Sessions.

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Sacramento Kings Find Free-Agent Steal with Ramon Sessions Signing

The Sacramento Kings opted to work out a sign-and-trade that sent former point guard Isaiah Thomas to the Phoenix Suns rather than pay him the four-year, $27 million contract he ultimately commanded.

And while the addition of Darren Collison goes a ways toward offsetting that loss, the organization remained in need of backcourt depth—particularly after agreeing to trade 15-year veteran Jason Terry to the Houston Rockets.

With the 2014-15 season suddenly around the corner, Sacramento has taken action.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that, “Free-agent guard Ramon Sessions has reached agreement on a two-year, $4.2 million deal with the Sacramento Kings, league sources told Yahoo Sports.”

The deal—which, as Wojnarowski notes, uses the biannual exception—is a low-risk venture for the franchise.

Sessions remains a capable rotation player and has proven throughout his seven-year career that he can start in a pinch. The 28-year-old averaged 12.3 points and 4.1 assists after splitting time between the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) and Milwaukee Bucks.

After playing his first 55 games (and the 2012-13 season) in Charlotte, Sessions’ playing time swelled to 32.5 minutes per contest in 28 games with Milwaukee, yielding a corresponding spike in production and efficiency.

Given the right opportunities, the Nevada product has certainly had his moments.

The Kings reportedly view Sessions as a combo-guard.

USA Today‘s Sam Amick notes that he, “will be used at both the point guard and shooting guard positions,” a testament both to Sessions’ versatility and the extent to which Sacramento may view him as an integral part of the rotation. 

NBCSports.com’s Brett Pollakoff went so far as to suggest that, “It could easily be argued that Sessions is the best point guard on the roster, and deserving of a spot in the team’s starting lineup.”

Though Collison—who’s scheduled to make $16 million over the next three seasons—figures to have a better shot at that starting job, the point remains that Sessions probably won’t have to beg for playing time. The last two summers’ lottery picks—Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas—should see plenty of minutes at shooting guard, but Sessions’ experience makes him an attractive option at both backcourt positions.

Reserve point guard Ray McCallum—taken with the 36th overall pick in 2013—is entering just his second season.

As The Sacramento Bee‘s Jason Jones notes, “The Kings were looking for a veteran ball-handler to go with Collison, because McCallum is still a young player, and the only other option to run the offense might have been rookie Stauskas.”

So there’s a very real need for someone of Sessions’ pedigree.

To be sure, Sessions won’t radically alter Sacramento’s fate. This is still a team coming off of a 28-win season. It’s still a team that gave up 103.4 points per contest last season, ranking 23rd in defensive efficiency according to Hollinger’s NBA Team Statistics.

The 6’3″ Sessions affords head coach Mike Malone some valuable size (and skill) at the point guard spot, but he certainly won’t reverse the club’s fortunes single-handedly.

If we’re being honest, there’s a reason he was still available this late in the offseason despite being in the prime of his career. While the Houston Rockets were reportedly interested in acquiring him from Milwaukee via sign-and-trade, the market for Sessions’ services has been anything but robust.

He’s not a top-shelf defender, and his inability to stick with a franchise for any extended period of time has to make you wonder. 

A career that’s spanned five different teams and a variety of roles on and off the bench has yet to translate into a long-term home. That once seemed bound to change when Sessions was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012.

After 23 regular-season games and mixed postseason results, however, the two sides parted ways when Sessions opted to pursue a more stable situation elsewhere.

“It was one of those situations I looked at like, ‘If I do come back what if they trade me?’” Sessions told Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears after signing with Charlotte. “There were talks about getting Deron [Williams]. They always wanted the bigger-named guy. What if I get traded to a team and it’s my contract year?”

Ultimately, Charlotte wasn’t the answer, and Sessions was traded in February along with Jeff Adrien to Milwaukee in exchange for Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour.

Sessions has come a long way. He was drafted with the 56th overall pick in 2007 and spent time in the NBA Development League with the Tulsa 66ers during the 2007-08 season. 

Just remaining in the league is an accomplishment in its own right. Nothing has come easily for Sessions.

But as early as 2008, he dropped 24 assists in a game with the Bucks. In 2009, he scored a career-high 44 points in an overtime loss against the Detroit Pistons. Later that season, he posted his first triple-double (which included 16 assists) against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Those are signs of undeniable talent, and finding the right team fit may very well pave the way for similar results.

Is Sacramento that fit?

Possibly.

Malone has cultivated some much-needed stability and toughness, perhaps laying a foundation for the kind of defensive transformation that might finally elevate this team into the playoff picture for the first time since 2006.

Center DeMarcus Cousins has matured before our eyes and will be coming off of a successful tour with Team USA at the FIBA World Cup in Spain. Kings teammate Rudy Gay joined him in Spain and will look to build upon last season’s solid debut during his first full season in Sacramento.

And promising youth abounds. Beyond McLemore, Stauskas and McCallum, 23-year-old forward Derrick Williams is still looking to vindicate his selection as the No. 2 overall pick in 2011 (by the Minnesota Timberwolves).

Again, if we’re being honest, things could go either way for the Kings.

This could be the season they turn the corner, perhaps doing their best impersonation of last season’s surprising Phoenix Suns. But it could also be just another step in what’s become a protracted rebuilding process.

Either way, Sessions should have every opportunity to prove he belongs.

While he may not be an overnight sensation in Sacramento, there’s little doubt he’s the kind of bargain that could make a front office look good. 

And as an affordable last-minute addition, he certainly won’t make this front office look bad. 

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Sacramento Kings sign Casspi, Hollins

Sacramento Kings sign Omri Casspi, Ryan Hollins

      
 

 

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