3 Takeaways from Las Vegas Summer League

Sacramento finished their Las Vegas Summer League at 2-3, but positives were aplenty as the team now looks to the regular season.
by Jordan Ramirez
Digital Managing Editor

Beginning with the inaugural California Classic at Golden 1 Center and wrapping up at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, the 2018 Kings Summer League campaign is officially in the books.

While the team had hoped for a better record in the annual summer tournament, there were plenty of positive developments as the regular season inches closer and closer.

Here are three takeaways from Las Vegas Summer League:

The Harry Giles Show

There had been eager anticipation to see him play for over a year - from high school YouTube clips to endless instances of the teammates praising him in the media, the team and fans alike were ready to see him put on the purple and black.

Relief, excitement and happiness for the second-year rookie who hadn’t played competitive basketball in over a year due to injuries was prevalent as he took his first steps onto the court in Sacramento and Las Vegas. Summer League gave us the arrival of Harry Giles, and the results were more than anything Kings fans could’ve hoped for.

It might have only been “the appetizer,” as Giles put it, but it was a hearty one at that. In just a handful of summer games, Giles displayed the offensive repertoire, defensive intensity and leadership that fans had hoped for when the team drafted him with the No. 20 overall pick in 2017.

Drawing comparisons to Kevin Garnett, Giles carried himself with a level of fluidity and skill that few others showed on the Summer League floor. He finished Las Vegas averaging 10.8 points, 7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 22.8 minutes per game.

Giles didn’t look like a player who not only had missed years of competitive basketball, but had never played a professional game in his life. Drawing praise from Vince Carter, Garrett Temple and many NBA evaluators in the arena, the hype reached the national stage thanks to a slew of impressive plays.

He’s 20 years old, still a rookie and is in the self-proclaimed best shape of his life. The Harry Giles Show is here, and Sacramento has a front row seat.

Justin Jackson’s Hot Shooting

Justin Jackson leaves Las Vegas Summer League leading the team in points (19.0), field goals made (28), field goals attempted (67) and minutes (31.3).

The second-year forward showed a multitude of scoring abilities, including; coming off screens, step-backs, transition buckets and facing up and driving to the basket. His full arsenal was on display, and it’s undoubtedly a positive sign heading into his sophomore campaign.

After starting 41 games last season, Jackson aims to continue his development with an expected uptick in minutes at the forward position. Coach Dave Joerger expects to take the “training wheels off” for many as next season arrives, and Jackson is in prime position to capitalize.

Summer League isn’t the final word on a players offseason development, but it can show significant signs as the regular season nears. Jackson impressed with his scoring and aggressiveness throughout the California Classic and Las Vegas, and the team will be the biggest beneficiary if that continues.

Team Chemistry

“Culture” is a term too often thrown around in the sports world.

Every new hire, whether in management or in coaching, stresses the term “culture.” How often does a culture actually change? If it does change, is it sustainable? Is it the right culture to begin with?

Throughout Summer League, many Kings players visited Las Vegas to watch the young guys do work. De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Zach Randolph, Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos were among those stopping by, and if one thing is clear about Sacramento: culture isn’t just a broad hope, it’s an active and in progress goal.

The team clearly enjoys being around each other, hanging out and learning from one another.

Take Marvin Bagley III, who during his pre-draft workout with the team, was met by Fox at the airport and later connected with Giles and the point guard for ice cream. Players recruiting isn’t uncommon, but real friendships developing and improving so quickly is.

Fans can now look forward to the beginning of Training Camp in just a few months as the young and hungry squad hopes to make a splash in the increasingly talented Western Conference.

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