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  • Renée C. Byer /

    Brendan Lane, of Pepperdine and a graduate of Rockin High School works out during the Kings pre-draft workout at the Kings practice facility on Monday June 2, 2014 in Sacramento.

  • Jose Luis Villegas /

    Sacramento Kings guard Ray McCallum (3) drives past Los Angeles Lakers guard Jodie Meeks (20) in the first quarter on Wednesday April 2, 2014 in the NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Kings head coach Michael Malone won’t focus on the summer league championship, but he doesn’t expect the Kings to be beaten like they were last year.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Sacramento Kings forward Quincy Acy (5) reacts to a turnover against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Sleep Train Arena on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Sacramento Kings power forward Derrick Williams (13) looks fora foul call against the Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

  • Paul Kitagaki Jr. /

    Brooklyn Nets shooting guard MarShon Brooks (9) drives past Sacramento Kings point guard Tyreke Evans (13) in the second half on November 18, 2012 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

  • Jose Luis Villegas /

    Mike Malone wants to see Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore improve his shooting and ballhandling in summer league play.

  • Lezlie Sterling /

    Kings draft pick Nik Stauskas was introduced to the media at a press event, Saturday, June 28, 2014, at the Kings practice facility.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Sacramento Kings guard Jared Cunningham (9) steals the ball from Oklahoma City Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb (11) in the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

Kings look in better shape for summer league this year

Published: Sunday, Jul. 6, 2014 - 5:19 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 8, 2014 - 9:30 am

The Kings’ first glimpse at how hard it is for coach Michael Malone to deal with losing came during last year’s NBA summer league.

In the big picture, summer league isn’t about wins and losses, and the Kings trotted out a team with no NBA experience. Still, Malone didn’t expect the Kings to lose four games in a row before winning their last one in Las Vegas.

On this year’s summer league roster, the Kings have five players who finished last season with them, so they’ll have some experience. And having five players familiar with the system the Kings run should make for a better showing.

Malone won’t focus on the summer league championship, but he doesn’t expect the Kings to be beaten like they were last year.

The Kings begin a four-day minicamp today at Spring Valley High School before opening play Friday against the San Antonio Spurs at Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus.

“I hope to be a lot more competitive than last year, but not at the expense of player development,” Malone said.

The Kings are much better prepared to develop their players.

“Last year, I’d been on the job a month prior to summer league,” Malone said. “I think we were the only team in summer league with all rookies.”

Summer league was especially tough on Ben McLemore. He struggled with his shooting and dribbling, problems that arose during the season.

Ray McCallum looked more comfortable in summer league, and his smoother transition eventually led to significant playing time last season.

Malone wants McLemore to improve his shooting and ballhandling and McCallum to become more of a vocal leader and a better decision maker.

Quincy Acy, Jared Cunningham and Derrick Williams are the other veterans on the summer league roster.

Nik Stauskas, this year’s first-round draft pick, will also play. He will be in a better position to succeed than McCallum and McLemore last summer because of the presence of the veterans.

“If Nik was coming in like Ben and Ray were last year, it would be tough,” Malone said.

This summer is especially important for Williams. Rarely does a No. 2 overall pick who’s a three-year veteran play in summer league, but Williams is still trying to find his place in the NBA.

Williams, who was traded to Sacramento in November after a disappointing stint in Minnesota, is in the last year of his rookie contract. He had moments with the Kings when he played like a high draft choice, but he often was a nonfactor.

The Kings have made Williams’ development a priority. They’ve visited him while he’s worked out in Los Angeles, and Williams has been in Sacramento working with his teammates.

The Kings want Williams to display consistent rebounding and an improved post game and defense this summer.

“Big year for him, and to his credit, it was not a difficult sell to him (on playing in summer league),” Malone said. “He was all in. His head and his heart are in the right place.”

Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at

Read more articles by Jason Jones

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