Last season, the Sacramento Kings took the NBA by storm. Finishing third in the West with a 48-34 record behind only the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies, the Kings finally snapped their playoff drought.
Their historic season eventually ended in a first-round loss to the more experienced Golden State Warriors, but all in all, the season was a success and delight to Kings fans. Now, with training camp and the new season approaching, it is time for the Kings to build on their first successful run in years. They have the chance to establish themselves as one of the new forces in the West.
Compared to other teams, the Kings had a quiet summer, but they are still set up for another enjoyable season. All the core players are returning, but there will also be some new faces wearing Kings jerseys.
Some of these new additions have to prove themselves before cracking Mike Brown’s rotation and gaining the team’s confidence. So, let’s look at three players looking to make a name for themselves in Kings training camp.
3. Jalen Slawson
In the latest NBA Draft, the Kings selected Jalen Slawson with the 54th pick. Picked so late in the draft, the forward signed a two-way deal with Sacramento in July. That means that he will spend most of his time with the Stockton Kings but could technically appear in up to fifty NBA games.
This will be a great opportunity for the still 23-year-old. After playing five seasons of college basketball, he is more mature than the average rookie, but he was also a second-round pick for a reason. Some extra time to develop in the G League will be good for Slawson and definitely benefit him more than just sitting on the bench during NBA games.
The Kings are pretty stacked already and have plenty of set rotational pieces. Developmental minutes are hard to come by unless your name is Keegan Murray, but Slawson has already shown in college that he can put in the work and improve from year to year. If that translates to the next level, he has the potential to be a solid role player in the future, and this is his chance to set the foundation for his professional career.
His biggest asset is his defense. Slawson is best at guarding forwards but can also switch onto smaller guards or bigger players on the inside and defend off the ball, which is something a lot of rookies struggle with.
His offensive game is not quite as refined yet. Even though his outside shot has already improved noticeably, he is still rather streaky, and his main way of getting to the rim is relying on his strength and willpower. With the right coaching, all this could turn into the solid skill set of a good NBA role player, though.
Last season, the Kings often struggled to defend forwards, and could surely use his defense when he is ready for meaningful NBA minutes. While he will probably not reach that point this upcoming season, there will be chances for him to get some spare minutes every once in a while.
Getting his first NBA minutes and participating in an NBA training camp should be a positive experience for Slawson as well as a good opportunity to make a first impression on the league. If he brings determination, defense, and the will to work hard to Kings’ training camp, he will be starting his career on the right track.