Second-round pick Justin James made an impression Friday with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists in his first significant playing time of the season. Before that, the Kings guard was mostly known for his non-stop chatter, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic.
James is talkative and opinionated, something that has been evident since the start of training camp. It’s his way of showing that he belongs in the league, and his teammates have noticed.
“He has that ‘it’ factor — he’s not shy,” Buddy Hield said. “From Day 1 when he first came in, he was not too shy to talk back, shy to voice his opinion … but he means well, and that comes from being confident.”
Sacramento took James with the 40th pick in June, and some draft experts were surprised he was selected at all. However, a series of injuries has provided him with an opportunity, and he played 33 minutes against Brooklyn after getting just 15 total minutes before that game.
“Every practice, he never shuts up, really,” coach Luke Walton said. “I think because of that, he knows the offense, he knows the play calls. There was one play out there he was directing veterans out there where to go. I think he knows what an amazing opportunity this is for him, and he’s doing everything in his power to make it work. He made a nice case for himself.”
There’s more from Sacramento:
- The Kings haven’t given up on Harry Giles, even though they decided not to pick up the fourth year of his rookie scale contract last month, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. Giles, who has been plagued by injuries since high school, provides another dimension with his ability to run the offense through the high post. Knee soreness caused him to miss all of training camp and the first eight games of the season.
- Proposed changes to the NBA’s playoff format could have helped the Kings reach the postseason last year, Ham notes in a separate story. The play-in system that the league is considering would have matched the Kings and Lakers in a one-game format to take on the loser between the Spurs and Clippers for the eighth seed.
- The Kings passed on Luka Doncic in last year’s draft in part because general manager Vlade Divac doesn’t like Doncic’s father, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon claimed on a podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski (hat tip to Jesse Reed of Sportsnaut). “My understanding is that him (Divac) being so close to Luka and knowing his dad so well factored into their decision,” MacMahon said. “Basically he didn’t think a whole lot of Luka’s dad, and the whole like father like son … well … no, this is a different dude. You messed that one up, Vlade.”