It’s only the pre-season, and it’s only one game…but it’s our job to get a sense of what’s going on with the young guys in Sacramento. Who has potential that will be realized versus who has potential that will be wasted. We took a closer look at the game against the Spurs on 10/6/17 and focused on the main attractions. Here’s what we saw.
De’Aaron Fox-Elite speed with a tight handle, dangerous combination. Has a tendency to over dribble in halfcourt sets, but his movements have purpose behind them. He probes the defense for soft spots and keeps his head up to find teammates at all times. Extremely confident in his passing abilities and has great awareness, passes the ball to space where teammate will be. Is always a threat to get to the rim.
Plays through his mistakes, doesn’t let a negative play compound. Good defender, will have be more consistent to become elite but has the tools for his position. Has the talent to be a good starting PG, but will have to show the ability to make shots from deep to reach upper-echelon.
Buddy Hield-Not a starter level talent for playoff teams. Best used as a 6th man who will bring energy and shooting into the game every night. Plays with a great motor on both ends of the floor, but does not possess elite athleticism to separate himself from his peers. Smart player off the ball; flies off screens into shots, runs the floor in transition to open the floor, cuts hard to the basket when overplayed. Ideal player to pair with a high usage, efficient play maker. Has very quick feet on the catch and gets into a strong offensive position immediately upon catch so he can create time/space in small windows. Lack of athleticism shows up in transition, susceptible to getting shot blocked when chased down.
Defensive effort is good, but will be at a disadvantage most nights at his position. Doesn’t back down, not afraid to guard bigger players and has moderate effectiveness.
Willie Cauley-Stein-The kind of player that always leaves you wanting more. Doesn’t display winning qualities, don’t think he’ll ever impact a season in a positive manner. Looks the part, moves well and has above average athleticism. Awareness and BBIQ are well below average for his position. SAC played through him at the elbows a lot tonight and he doesn’t gain any advantages despite his physical gifts. Handle is just okay, effective in switching sides of the court, but doesn’t show a burst to get to the rim. Offense stalls when ball hits his hands.
No urgency on defensive end unless the spotlight is on him. Gives up bad rebounding position when on the weak side and allows offensive player to get hands on the ball often. Missed a big-big switch on baseline set to give up easy jumper to LaMarcus Aldridge (guessing his shooting ability was in the scouting report). Surface pressure only, “tagged” Danny Green on weak side…but somehow Green was able to continue right past him for a layup at the rim. Doesn’t attack ball handler in p/r situations, settles in and takes easiest way out.
Lot of similarities to JaVale McGee, who is now an NBA Champion via riding coattails. Don’t see Cauley-Stein being the defensive anchor they hoped he’d be.
Skal Labissiere-Impressed with his physical improvements. Body looks stronger and he’s playing with more confidence. Will develop into a solid starter on a playoff team. Plays hard on both ends of the floor and has the ability to get his own shot off.
Operates well in the mid-range level at this point. Very good shooter out to 17′ at this point and would contend he’ll be a 3PT shooter for much of his career. Likes to face up and get right into his jumper, high release gets clean looks. Ball handling has improved, able to get good shots off dribble moves, skill level starting to manifest itself in game.
Communicates well on defense. Has the lateral ability to hedge and recover. Closes out well for a big, will allow him to defend on the perimeter in addition to the post. Technique in paint is improving, but doesn’t have the base to keep the likes of Gasol or Aldridge out of scoring areas.
Malachi Richardson-Not sure if he’s gotten any better. Was hoping to see more in his game. Playing a little out of position having to defend the 3. Worked hard, but defense is not his forte. Played within the offense and didn’t hunt shots. Not as talented as Jeremy Lamb and will struggle to find his role here.
Bogdan Bogdanovic-Intriguing player. Showed signs of high-level awareness on defensive end. Subtle switches and positioning teammates that led to SAS having to swing the ball a couple extra passes to a non-shooter instead of getting what they wanted.
Shifty player on offensive end. Creates body contact and has enough quickness to maintain leverage of match up. Handle is good, can get into the paint on p/r and has the patience to let the play develop. Will be in the NBA for a while. Worst case, Beno Udrih type of scorer off the bench.
Frank Mason-Career backup, and I mean that in the best way possible. Very reliable player in p/r and can make any pass on the floor. Good shooter off the ball, provides spacing for teammates when he’s not directly involved in the action. Knows that he doesn’t have the size to finish in the paint and has developed an effective floater.
Savvy player on defensive end. Tough and confident, will always play with a chip on his shoulder.
Will be a positive player on playoff teams. Not the same type of player as Patty Mills, but a similar impact. Offensive players who can play in p/r and can shoot from 3PT range will always find a spot in a coach’s rotation.
Georgios Papagiannis-Another career backup, but some of that is victim of circumstance rather than talent level. Very good screener, holds contact well and frees his teammates effectively. Good burst out of the screen to crash the rim and has to be accounted for. Confident scorer with back to the basket, mostly because of his right-handed jump hook that he gets to easily.
Good defender, fakes it well. Exaggerates body position and gets very low when defending p/r, deters ball handlers from attacking him (for now). Contains the ball and slows primary attack. Will always been a factor defending the rim because of his size, but will never be an explosive shot blocker. Awareness and BBIQ are solid.
Justin Jackson-3PT shot looks fluid, but has to clean up his footwork. Delivery is a little slow, but don’t see any long term issues. As soon as he gets accustomed to the speed and size of the NBA, he’ll adjust. Another career backup, but always in the rotation.
Future Starters-Fox, Labissiere
Rotation Players-Hield, Mason, Bogdanovic, Papagiannis, Jackson
No star power to lead them to the conference finals yet, but a good foundation to add to. Another year in the lottery, with some potential Superstars at the top of the draft. The future isn’t bright, but it’s far from bleak.