March 19, 2017, 7:18 pm
After last weeks slate of forgettable performances, the Kings somewhat bounced back this week going 2-2. They managed to top the Magic and Suns but fell to the Thunder and Spurs; results that were, in a way, expected. However, with that being said, the youth movement is officially underway in Sacramento with Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis, Buddy Hield and Willie Cauley-Stein all logging big minutes; Malachi Richardson will likely join them in the rotation next week once he returns from injury.
The week began with a high-scoring affair against the Orlando Magic. Sacramento edged the Magic, 120-115, in a back and forth contest. Seven of the nine players that suited up for the Kings managed at least 10 points so it was a team effort overall. Darren Collison led the way with 19 points and 13 assists while Elfrid Payton continued his hot streak after the All-Star break dropping a triple-double; 13 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists.
In was another back and forth contest against the Suns on Wednesday. A strong fourth quarter by the Kings helped them to a, 107-101, victory in Phoenix. It was a huge night for Skal Labissiere as he notched a career-high 32 points to go with 11 rebounds; he scored 21 points in the fourth quarter alone. Willie Cauley-Stein had a very productive night too with 14 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and four blocks in 33 minutes.
Sacramento ran into a brick wall on Saturday against the Thunder. Oklahoma City had a 63-41 advantage at halftime and that lead was just too insurmountable for the Kings to overcome. Russell Westbrook did his thing but narrowly missed out on a triple-double while Doug McDermott went off for 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting and 4-of-5 from three. For the Kings, Georgios Papagiannis had a career-night compiling 14 points and 11 rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting.
The Kings jumped out to a 14-2 advantage early against the Spurs but that lead slowly evaporated and San Antonio went on to demolish the Kings. Kawhi Leonard was a non-factor thanks to Garrett Temple; Temple holding Kawhi to just 3-of-12 shooting from the field and 1-of-6 from three. LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Pau Gasol were shown no resistance and helped lead the Spurs on the night. Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Willie Cauley-Stein all deserve honorable mentions for their efforts but the cake goes to Garrett Temple for his great defensive effort on Leonard and his overall contributions on offense.
Takeaway from the week
The Kings are all-in on their youth for the remainder of the season
It became pretty clear this week that the Kings are completely focused on the development of their younger players for the remainder of the season. Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis are all in for heavy workloads over the final 15 or so games of the season and Malachi Richardson will join them too when he is healthy. Not only are the young guys playing heavy minutes, they all look very impressive. It’s still very early, but Vlade Divac and his staff deserve a pat on the back for their work around the draft and selecting some seemingly talented players.
His rebounding still needs work, but Willie Cauley-Stein has shown he has the potential to be a starting center in the NBA. His athleticism is undeniable and it allows him to makes swift moves in the post and contribute productive stat lines such as the one we saw against the Suns. Skal Labissiere has come along quicker than anyone could have imagined and he is blossoming right before our eyes. He has shown star potential and could very well be one of the Kings’ best players for many years to come.
Buddy Hield is a naturally gifted scorer who can light it up at any given time. His defense and ball-handling still need work but that will come around eventually with more reps over the summer. Hield has the goods to average 20-plus points somewhere down the line. Georgios Papagiannis has been given some rotation minutes over the past couple of games and he hasn’t disappointed. His career-night against the Thunder was one thing, but his touch around the rim is incredible and his huge frame gives him the ability to rebound at will. He still shows signs of being very raw but his future is bright after his impressive stint recently.
Player power rankings
Note: These rankings are based on each player’s performance from this week, not on the entire season.
#1 – Skal Labissiere (Last week: #2)
Skal makes the leap to the top spot this week after numerous stand-out performances and by just being the most consistent player overall. His averages ballooned a bit because of that huge 32-point game, but for the week he managed 17.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game on 65.1 percent shooting from the field. He’s been incredible and the future is undeniably bright for the 21 year old.
#2 – Willie Cauley-Stein (Last week: #4)
Willie had an impressive week despite his off performance against the Thunder. Cauley-Stein compiled averages of 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks on 50.0 percent shooting from the field. When you think about it those are some crazy numbers he is putting up. Willie can really do it all and he should continue to get 30-plus minutes for the remainder of the season which is nothing but good news.
#3 – Garrett Temple (Last week: #7)
Temple jumps up to the top-3 this week after some solid performances. His defense was incredible all week matching up with guys like Kawhi Leonard, who he held to just 12 points, and Russell Westbrook who he managed to contain from registering yet another triple-double. Stats wise Temple had averages of 11.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals on 48.5 percent shooting from the field. His contributions to this team are heavily overlooked at times.
#4 – Buddy Hield (Last week: #3)
Buddy Hield had his moments but overall he was solid. His most notable performance of the week came against the Spurs where he notched 18 points, five rebounds and five assists on 8-of-14 shooting from the floor. He scores with ease and has an impressive variety of moves that can stump any defender. He is averaging just under 30 minutes a game over the past two weeks but that should creep up over 30 in the coming weeks.
#5 – Anthony Tolliver (Last week: #10)
You can say the shooting slump is officially over for Tolliver. He shot a blistering 65.0 percent from the field and an even better 81.8 percent from three for the week while averaging 12.7 points in the process. It was a great week for Tolliver but we should see his minutes slowly decrease over the last 15 or so games due to the “youth movement”.
#6 – Georgios Papagiannis (Last week: out of the rotation)
Papa G makes his first appearance of the season in the player power rankings. He was given some rotation minutes this week and as a result he had tidy averages of 5.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game including his 14 points and 11 rebounds against the Thunder on Saturday. As noted earlier, his potential is undeniable, and he should get a nice dosage of playing time to close out the season.
#7 – Kosta Koufos (Last week: #6)
Koufos’ minutes are steadily declining as the season rounds out but he’s still been serviceable. He averaged a solid 9.0 points and 5.7 rebounds on 47.8 percent shooting from the field. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him out of the starting lineup by seasons end but we all know it’s not due to bad play.
#8 – Darren Collison (Last week: #5)
It’s a bit of a drop this week for Collison after some underwhelming play. He had a great game against the Magic with 19 points and 13 assists but other than that he struggled with his shot and overall command of the team. His playing time will likely be cut along with the other veterans to make way for the younger players.
#9 – Ty Lawson (Last week: #8)
Like Collison, Lawson was fairly underwhelming this week. His minutes decreased as the week went on and you can expect that trend to continue. 8.7 points and 6.0 assists isn’t bad at all but he shot just 38.1 percent for the week.
#10 – Langston Galloway (Last week: out of the rotation)
Langston Galloway makes his debut on the power rankings this week. You can’t really include him in the “youth movement” but he got a nice helping of playing time this week at around 20 minutes a night. He had a solid average of 7.5 points on 50.0 percent shooting which is all you really ask of him off the bench.
Injured: Rudy Gay (Achilles), Tyreke Evans (ankle) and Malachi Richardson (hamstring).
Not with the team: Arron Afflalo (personal) and Ben McLemore (birth of child).
July 8, 2020, 12:12 amMiles BridgesSF, Charlotte Hornets
Miles Bridges, the second-year forward out of Michigan State, had a decent season for the Hornets, but he wasn't too kind to fantasy owners who were high on him in drafts last fall.
Bridges' ADP was inside the top-100 in both Yahoo (83) and ESPN (94) after draft season concluded last October. At the current juncture, he ranks 162 in 9-cat and 148 in 8-cat; not the jump forward many thought, fantasy GMs and analysts alike, Bridges would take in this his second season in the league. The Hornets obviously still have reason for optimism and have far from given up on him, but there's also reason to believe the 2020-21 campaign could be a pivotal one for Bridges in terms of showcasing the progress he's making in getting fully adjusted to the NBA.
July 7, 2020, 11:42 pmDwayne BaconSF, Charlotte Hornets
Third-year guard Dwayne Bacon, the 10th pick of the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft, did little to improve his game during the 2019-20 season, finishing the year with very underwhelming numbers.
Bacon has always torn it up in the G League but has never been able to translate his production to the NBA. He averaged just 17.6 minutes in 39 games, his fewest games played in three NBA seasons, although this one got cut short by the on-going coronavirus pandemic. His biggest problem seems to be his shot, as his averages from the floor this year were paltry, at best. After shooting 47.5 percent from the floor in 2018-19, Bacon took a big step back (34.8 percent) this season. He was also pitiful from beyond the arc (28.4 percent) and from the free throw stripe (66.0 percent). It seems unlikely that the Hornets will extend the $2 million qualifying offer lined up for Bacon this offseason, so there's a decent chance he suits up elsewhere in his next NBA appearance.
July 7, 2020, 11:29 pmNicolas BatumSG, Charlotte Hornets
Nicolas Batum played only 22 games during the 2019-20 regular season (the last of which came on January 24), finishing the year ranked outside the top-225 in categories formats.
The veteran swingman had an injury-riddled campaign, Batum's fifth with the Hornets. He averaged just 3.6 points, 4.5 boards and 3.0 assists in 23.0 minutes per night. A longtime threat from deep, Batum shot 28.6 percent from three, which was also a disappointing development. He only has one year remaining on the gigantic, $120 million deal he inked prior to the 2016-17 season, and the Hornets are probably wishing it wrapped up after this season. They have no use for Batum moving forward, but they owe him $27 million next year. Yikes.
July 7, 2020, 10:54 pmCody MartinPF, Charlotte Hornets
Cody Martin, the sixth pick of the second round of the 2019 NBA draft out of the University of Nevada, showed signs of productivity during his rookie campaign with the Hornets, averaging 5.0 PTS, 3.3 REB, 2.0 AST and 0.8 STL in 18.8 minutes per game (48 games).
Those per-game numbers actually put him below his twin brother, Caleb (who was not drafted), despite Cody playing in 30 more games. Cody ranked right around 300 in 8 and 9-cat leagues on the season but was playing well to close out the year. He snuck inside the top-230 over the final two weeks prior to the COVID-19 pause, and was a streamable player in March due to his versatility and consistency.
July 7, 2020, 10:51 pmDevonte' GrahamPG, Charlotte Hornets
Devonte' Graham emerged as the biggest beneficiary of the departure of Kemba Walker, taking over the reins as the starting point guard and finishing the season ranked 55th in 8-cat and 77th 9-cat scoring formats.
After averaging just 14.7 minutes per game in his rookie season in 2018-19, Graham got thrust into the spotlight in 2019-20, jumping to a playing time of 35.1 minutes per game. The 24-year-old sophomore saw an across-the-board improvement in his stats and became a solid source of threes and dimes for small-ball fantasy lineups. Graham shot just 38.2 percent from the field but ticked other boxes with averages of 18.2 PPG, 3.5 3PG, 7.5 APG and 1.0 SPG. If he can somehow rein in his poor shooting and allow the game to slow down for him, he should be someone to watch come 2020-21.
July 7, 2020, 10:41 pmTerry RozierPG, Charlotte Hornets
Terry Rozier ranked inside the top-75 in both 8 and 9-cat fantasy leagues on a per game basis in 2019-20, his first season with the Hornets after four years with the Celtics.
Rozier swapped places with longtime fan-favorite and Hornets legend, Kemba Walker. Rozier inked a sign-and-trade for three years, $56.7 million ($18.9 million annually) that included Walker going to the Celtics. Starting all 63 games he played this season, Rozier averaged 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.7 threes per game for an underwhelming Hornets squad (23-42). Fellow backcourt mate Devonte' Graham unexpectedly put up outstanding numbers from the outset, so that put a bit of a damper on Rozier's first season with the team, as the two finished with similar numbers and fantasy rankings. Look for the backcourt tandem of Graham and Rozier to stay together moving forward for the Hornets, at least for next season. They will likely inhibit each other's fantasy ceilings, however.
July 7, 2020, 10:19 pmPJ WashingtonPF, Charlotte Hornets
P.J. Washington was one of bigger pleasant surprises from the rookie class of 2019, making a name for himself with the Hornets as a key player and finishing the season ranked 142/159 in 8/9-cat per-game value and 126/136 in 8/9-cat on total value.
As a rookie, Washington proved doubters that he was far more NBA-ready than initially projected. A strong Summer League and promising preseason run, translated reasonably well into viable fantasy value. Washington ended up playing 58 games for the Hornets and notched averages of 12.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.5 3PG, 0.9 SPG and 0.8 BPG in just over 30 minutes per game. Still, Washington's biggest weakness remains his .647 shooting percentage from the free throw line. Overall, he gets solid marks for passing the eye test and flashing some promising impact on the box score on occasion.
July 7, 2020, 10:09 pmCody ZellerC, Charlotte Hornets
Cody Zeller took a step backward during the 2019-20 season, finishing the year ranked 178 in 8-cat and 185 in 9-cat.
The emergence and immediate productivity of rookie PJ Washington was a key reason for Zeller's rather disappointing year. He played in all but seven of the Hornets' games but had a rough stretch in February that included three straight DNP-CD's to close out the month. Zeller, as one might expect, came back strong after that absence, averaging 11.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 blocks in five games to close out his 2019-20 campaign. Zeller will be an unrestricted free agent after next season.
July 7, 2020, 9:53 pmCaleb MartinSG-SF, Charlotte Hornets
Caleb Martin, twin brother of Cody Martin, closed out the 2019-20 season playing his best basketball of the season for the Hornets after spending the majority of the year in the G League.
Martin played over 35 minutes in both of the Hornets' final two games in March. He finished inside the top-270 in both 8 and 9-cat leagues and was ranked inside the top-125 during the final two weeks before the season was suspended. In 21.7 minutes per game over the course of those two weeks at the end of February and into March, Martin put up per-game averages of 8.9 PTS, 2.5 REB, 1.8 AST, 0.9 STL, 0.5 BLK and 1.8 3PT. In addition, he went 20-for-37 from beyond the arc (in 18 games played), good for 54 percent. That is a very promising number, albeit in a fairly small sample size, so the Hornets are obviously hoping he can maintain his prowess from deep next season.
July 7, 2020, 9:49 pmMalik MonkSG, Charlotte Hornets
Despite the departure of Kemba Walker, Malik Monk remained mostly unimpressive in 2019-20 with averages of 10.3 PPG, 1.1 3PG, 2.9 RPG and 2.1 APG to finish ranked 257/277 in 8/9-cat per-game value.
Monk logged 55 games for the Hornets this season but could not hold any real momentum, except in February where he was able to string together an eight-game streak of double-digit scoring. His strong run came to a screeching halt when he was suspended indefinitely for violating the league's anti-drug program. Monk was eventually reinstated during the hiatus brought about by the coronavirus.