October 3, 2017, 3:02 pm
Frank Mason was the best player on the floor for Sacramento on Monday night. He tallied a team-high 17 points to go with six rebounds and an assist in 22 minutes.
Mason shot an efficient 5-of-10 from the field, 2-of-4 from three and 5-of-6 at the line. He didn’t look like a rookie when he was on the floor. Mason played with poise and looked like a natural fit in the Kings offense.
Most rookies when they come into the NBA look hesitant, lost and are normally a step behind everyone else on the floor. The 23-year-old Mason entered the 2017 Draft as one of the oldest players in the draft class and it’s for that reason, along with his height, why he dropped to the Kings in the second round.
But it’s also for that reason why he stood out against the Spurs on Monday. Mason played like an NBA veteran with the way he handled the ball and created offense for himself. He rebounded like he’s 6-foot-6 too.
However, his stellar performance in Sacramento’s preseason opener does cause problems for the Kings. Mason wasn’t expected to be featured in the rotation this season. He was meant to be brought up behind George Hill and De’Aaron Fox, and nurtured into the backup point guard role.
Instead, he outplayed everyone else on the floor and made a legitimate case for rotation minutes this season. Now it’s only one preseason game, so it’s best not to overreact too much to this, but he played in a way that seemed sustainable for the foreseeable future and the Kings’ coaching staff would have seen that. For all we know he’s been dominating in training camp too.
The reason this causes a problem for the Kings is that Dave Joerger probably has his rotation set despite the fact preseason has just begun. Joerger’s tendencies are clear, he favors veteran players and there’s no way around that. Frank Mason made Joerger’s job a whole lot harder last night because if he continues to play the way he did, the coaching staff will have no choice but to give Mason regular minutes.
But who loses out as a result?
That’s the problem. Hill is set to start and Fox is the backup. Temple looks to be the starter at two-guard with either Bogdanovic or Hield backing him up. There’s no way to fit Mason into the mix.
Joerger will likely get criticized either way. No matter who he decides to play there’s always going to be someone who misses out that deserves to be on the court and Mason may be that guy.
Fans have already taken a liking to the former Kansas star, and for good reason. He has all the makings of a solid NBA player, but will he get an opportunity to really spread his wings in Sacramento? It’s hard to see at this stage.