The Sacramento Kings traded the 8th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft to the Phoenix Suns for the 13th pick, the 28th pick and the rights to Serbian sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic. Once this deal went through, fans were held in suspense wondering which direction then rookie General Manager Vlade Divac would go in with the 13th pick.
Commissioner Adam Silver arrived at the podium and announced the Sacramento Kings had chosen Georgios Papagiannis, a center from Greece. At this very moment, a collective “what the hell” was uttered throughout the entire Sacramento region as people quickly realized their team’s front office had just selected a 19-year old that no one had ever heard of. Pegged as low as a late second-rounder in some mock drafts, to say the pick was a surprise would have been an understatement.
Fast forward to the beginning of the 2016-17 season, and Georgios Papagiannis was right where he should have been…….in the D-League. With Demarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein and others already patrolling the paint, there was no need to rush the youngster into meaningful minutes with the big club.
And then, it happened. On Feb. 20, 2017, the Twittersphere was set on fire as multiple NBA insiders reported that Demarcus Cousins had been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, a 2017 first-round pick (Top-3 protected) and spare parts. Most Kings players were deflated and confused as the team was on the fringe of playoff contention and had been told repeatedly by the front office that their prized big man wouldn’t be traded. One particular rookie saw an opportunity.
With Demarcus Cousins gone, minutes opened up, and lots of them. But with a coach in Dave Joerger that had a reputation for not playing youth, what would happen? The Sacramento head coach eventually decided with Boogie gone, it was time to embrace the full youth movement which meant floor time for Papagiannis.
In 22 games with the Kings, “Papa G” averaged 12.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 blocks per 36 minutes while shooting almost 55 percent from the field, according to Basketball Reference. The rookie showed great touch and creativity around the rim, and even showed off his ability to make the mid-range jump shot.
But the start of the 2017-18 NBA season is right around the corner, and it appears the path to playing time for Papagiannis may again be blocked, albeit for a short time. In the offseason, the Sacramento Kings acquired grizzled veteran Zach Randolph, a former player and favorite of head coach Dave Joerger while the two were in Memphis. Last season, Joerger basically had no choice but to play the rookies because who was going to stop that from happening? Players like Anthony Tolliver? I don’t think so.
With Z-Bo now in the fold alongside Kosta Koufos, Willie Cauley-Stein and fellow second-year player Skal Labissiere, there seems to be a log-jam in the frontcourt as those four will likely get the bulk of the minutes.
Papagiannis also struggled mightily in 2017 Summer League play so don’t be surprised if he starts out the season in Reno once again. But as the Kings’ roster stands today, they have an average age just north of 25 years old. With that much youth and inexperience, the 2017-18 season could be one with few wins for Sacramento. This means veterans, including Randolph, could be on the move by the trade deadline.
It appears Papagiannis’ development and time in Sacramento in the upcoming season will once again be contingent on a trade and the number of W’s.
Kings’ De’Aaron Fox Talks About Team’s Confidence
The Sacramento Kings are off to a surprising start to the season, and point guard De’Aaron Fox says that he and his teammates are entering each and every game this season with confidence and a winning mentality.
“We’re going into every game this year feeling like we can win,” Fox said, according to NBC Sports. “And when you go into games with that confidence, you start seeing shots go in, energy picks up, and you have a ball game.
“People are starting to take notice,” Fox added. “They’re saying (Sacramento) is not an easy win if we play you at home or on the road. We just come out and play our game. We feel like if we can play fast, then it definitely gives us a chance to win.”
Kings Say Zach Randolph Not On Trade Block
The Sacramento Kings are denying rumors that veteran forward Zach Randolph is available on the trading block and general manager Vlade Divac is personally shooting down rumors while adding that the team values his veteran presence.
“Any opportunity for us to improve, we’ll look at it, but we’re not focusing (on trading him),” Divac said, according to NBC Sports’ James Ham. “We’re happy that he’s around those young guys.”
Kings head coach Dave Joeger also spoke with Randolph, prior to the start of the regular season, and clarified Randolph’s role moving forward, telling the veteran that; “I need you to be supportive, I need you to be that veteran and positive and help our young guys and lead by example.”
Randolph has proceeded professionally, according to Joeger.
Kings’ Yogi Ferrell Discusses Decision to Leave Dallas, Sign With Sacramento
Sacramento Kings point guard Yogi Ferrell recently joined the team on a two-year, $6.2 million contract, abruptly backing out of a prior agreement with his former team, the Dallas Mavericks, who offered him a two-year $5.3 million pact.
Ferrell explained his decision during an appearance on The Jim Rome Show on Monday.
“The main thing is that I like their youth and I like their style of play,” Ferrell explained. “It’s faster, they get up and down and I feel that’s the same game I play my entire life. I feel like I can go in there and kind of mold the identity of the Kings and just give them another spark that they need.”
Ferrell averaged 10.2 ppg last season after working hard to earn a contract with the Mavericks, coming from the NBA’s D-League.
“Time has gone by fast, that’s for sure,” Ferrell said. “I’m taking every moment of it. I’m very blessed to even be in the position to allow myself to excel in this league.”
“I was undrafted, played a couple games with Brooklyn, didn’t work out. I just wanted to make sure I was ready for my next opportunity. I knew it was gonna come just because of how hard I work.”
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