Seven things to ponder as Sacramento Kings tip off 2014 NBA Summer League

Ben McLemore celebrates a thunderous jam against the Atlanta Hawks at 2013 NBA Summer League. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

Summer league action officially tips off for the Sacramento Kings later tonight when they take on the San Antonio Spurs on the campus of UNLV in Las Vegas. This year’s team is drastically more talented and more seasoned than the squad the Kings fielded last summer. Six of the Kings’ 16 summer league players have NBA experience, including Ray McCallum, Ben McLemore, Quincy Acy and Derrick Williams.

What are some things to ponder as the Kings enter summer league play in Las Vegas? Let’s examine a few questions.

1. Will Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas see much time on the court together?

Stauskas may be a shooting guard, but he’s versatile. The rookie out of Michigan is a capable playmaker, leading some to believe he can run some point for the Kings. Pete D’Alessandro and Michael Malone both say they envision Stauskas co-starring in the backcourt at times with McLemore. If that’s the case, the Kings have an opportunity to test drive that notion starting tonight.

2. How NBA ready is Nik Stauskas?

There’s no doubt that the Kings are very high on the rookie shooting guard. They had opportunities to trade down and acquire multiple assets in this year’s draft, but decided to stand pat because they felt very strong about Stauskas’ talent. Some within the Kings organization even feel that the 20-year-old guard would start for a number of other teams in the league this year. Summer league will be our first chance to see how good Stauskas really is against pro competition.

3. Will there be any shakeups to the Kings’ actual roster?

The Kings have been linked to a number of different trade scenarios this offseason, but have yet to pull the trigger on anything major thus far. It seems like a breakup is in the works between them and Isaiah Thomas.  Besides signing Darren Collison and drafting Nik Stauskas, what other moves does Pete D’Alessandro have up his sleeve? Finding a better fit next to DeMarcus Cousins in the front-court remains a high priority for the Kings to address this offseason.

4. Do we see noticeable improvement out of Ben McLemore?

McLemore’s play last summer ended up being a precursor to his less-than-stellar rookie campaign. However, the franchise has praised the work the 21-year-old guard has put in so far this offseason. McLemore must show improvement in ball-handling as well as consistency in his jump shot to validate the organization’s statements on him. The pressure is on McLemore to show growth this summer considering the Kings just drafted another talented young player who plays the same position.

5. Do we see noticeable improvement out of Ray McCallum?

If Isaiah Thomas is indeed on his way out of Sacramento, how much does that have to do with McCallum’s upside and future? The 23-year-old point guard put together a strong finish to last year, playing more than 40 minutes a night during a period of time in which Thomas nursed a thigh injury. McCallum was able to show his skills as a mistake-free guard, rarely committing turnovers and making good decisions with the basketball. McCallum is the closest thing to a true point guard that the Kings currently have on their roster. Summer league will be an opportunity for McCallum to solidify his place in the Kings’ rotation.

6. Which Derrick Williams will the Kings get in Vegas?

As a former No. 2 pick entering the final year of his rookie contract, Williams knows he has a lot to prove this summer. Committing himself to the Kings’ summer league roster is a positive first step. When he’s aggressive and assertive, the 23-year-old forward is a tough cover. But after the Kings traded for Rudy Gay last year, Williams, more often than not, faded into the background and barely left a dent in the box score. Williams has a chance to be a featured option on the Kings summer league team. But, it would be even better if he demonstrates that he can remain engaged in a game without having a set number of plays run for him.

7. What can we expect out of MarShon Brooks?

Brooks is an interesting summer league pickup for the Kings. The 25-year-old shooting guard came into the NBA and was touted for his scoring abilities at Providence. He put together a solid rookie campaign with the Nets, but has bounced around the league since. This past season alone, he was traded twice and played for three different teams (the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers). Brooks is a tremendous scorer and is fun to watch, but needs to show the league that he can defend. It won’t hurt his cause if he’s also able to outplay two former lottery picks in the process.


Jonathan Santiago
Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.

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