NBA Championships have been hard to come by for the Sacramento Kings in the last 60 years, but it’s not the case in the NBA Las Vegas Summer League as they clinched their second summer league title with a resounding 100-67 win over the Boston Celtics.
The Kings’ summer league championship may mean a little more extra for Filipinos as Philippine basketball great Jimmy Alapag once again served as one of Sacramento’s summer league assistant coaches but this time came home with a title.
The Kings had this in the bag early on despite Boston staying close since there were only three lead changes, all of which happened in the first quarter. Among other things, Sacramento forced the Celtics to commit 28 turnovers, further disrupting their offense and limiting possessions. With their strong defense, they were able to end their stint in Las Vegas undefeated.
Louis King validated the Kings’ (no pun intended) decision to sign him to a two-way contract back in May, as he finished with a game-high 21 points and five steals enroute to Championship Game MVP Honors. Sophomore Jahm’ius Ramsey, Matt Coleman III, and Ade Murkey were the other double-figure scorers with 16, 14, and 10 points, respectively.
Meanwhile, Davion Mitchell, Sacramento’s top pick in this year’s draft, needed 12 shots to score nine points, but made his mark by running the offense and dishing out a team-high seven assists on just one turnover.
Apart from forcing Boston into turnovers, limiting sophomores Aaron Nesmith and Payton “Mr. 92 points” Pritchard to a combined 18 points was crucial as well for the Kings. The Celtics had to then rely on Carsen Edwards, who was the only other Boston Celtic in double-figures with 15 points (on 16 shots).
In the grander scheme of things, summer league may not matter to many as only a handful of those on Sacramento’s Las Vegas summer league roster will eventually make the final cut before opening night. Some of those could even end up spending more time in the G-League than in the NBA itself. However, these proud few will have confidence heading into Kings training camp.
For Mitchell, it was about finding ways to win when he couldn’t get it going offensively. Whether it was finding the open man or locking up Pritchard and the rest of the Celtics, the former Baylor Bear made sure to display the qualities that made him a 2021 Third-Team All-American, NCAA Champion, and the ninth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
How this will translate to the league remains to be seen, as his role in a loaded backcourt with De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and sophomore Tyrese Haliburton could see him starting out on the bench. Regardless of where he starts out, the 22-year old will be a two-way for whoever he encounters, making for an exciting thought for Sacramento.
On the other hand, Ramsey and King are both looking for larger roles on the Kings next season. Ramsey, who just turned 20 in June, is raring to do more after a season of working on his body and game. In fact, the former Texas Tech Red Raider led Sacramento in scoring in Las Vegas with 16.2 points through five games. Meanwhile, King is looking to ensure that the Kings maximize the 45 days he can spend on the team as allowed by the NBA’s two-way contract.
Sacramento must also give props to head coach Bobby Jackson and the rest of the coaching staff, of which includes Alapag, considering the circumstances surrounding this year’s summer league. Not only was there no tournament back in 2020, but this year’s edition came within weeks of the 2021 NBA Draft. A hastily constructed roster and a short turnaround to get players up to speed only added to the struggles amidst a pandemic, which continues to rage on across the world.
It’s been said that winning cures everything, and now the Sacramento Kings are setting their sights on ending the NBA’s longest active playoff drought. Winning the summer league is a step in the right direction and Kings fans hope that Luke Walton and the rest of the coaching staff can build on this by putting together a strong run this season.