This young Kings team definitely lived up to the hype tonight. De’Aaron Fox jetted up and down the court, Justin Jackson was a huge surprise, and Frank Mason looked like a legitimate starting NBA point guard.
This is the guy that everyone was excited to see. For most peoples’ standards, he lived up to their expectations. For me, however, I’m left looking for more. It’s no secret that I have serious doubts about Fox’s outside shooting ability. After watching tonight, my doubts will continue. I saw him make three jump shots; two of which were basically inside the paint. I saw him struggle from both mid-range and from three.
Not everything I saw was bad, however. His athleticism was everything I expected and even a little bit more. What really surprised me was his defensive ability. I knew he was supposedly a great one on one defender in college, but what I saw tonight brought that to another level. He reminded me of Kawhi Leonard, not only because he’s a good defender, but with the way he plays defense. At any time, he could’ve stolen the ball if he felt like it. Despite all the good, he can’t be a star point guard without the three-point shot.
Justin Jackson was a huge surprise for Kings fans. He scored 18 points off of a couple three-pointers and some smooth layups. He was even trending on Twitter for a bit for his play. He was a great team defender and shot the ball surprisingly well. The more I see from him, the more excited I get.
I was optimistic about Papagiannis. He lost 12 pounds over the offseason and Malachi Richardson talked about his improved mobility. I really though he could be a starting center for us this year. After watching tonight, we’d be lucky if he didn’t spend the majority of the season in Reno, playing in the NBA G-League. Hopefully, we see the new and improved Papa next game.
Malachi Richardson is still probably my favorite rookie from last season. He was shut down for the second half of the season after experiencing a hamstring injury. Following the injury, people seemed to disregard him, especially after Skal Labissiere broke out. The “forgotten one” title he gave himself is a perfect representation.
Unfortunately, tonight he experienced another injury in the third quarter. I couldn’t find any information regarding the intensity of the injury, but the limp he showed wasn’t promising. If this continues, he could get the injury-prone title given to him.
Overall, this was a such a fun game to watch. I miss basketball so much, and this made my want for the season to start even stronger. Remember, this is also just a summer league game. It has literally no affect on the players involved.