Skal Labissiere spent most of his teens with great expectations surrounding his basketball career.
Zach Randolph remembers. The new Kings forward recalled hearing about Labissiere making waves on the Memphis high school basketball scene after he’d moved from Haiti while Randolph played for the Grizzlies.
“Real young, a lot of raw talent but knew he was going to be special,” Randolph said. “His height, his body control and just the way he moved, everything. So you just knew he was going to be special.”
The Kings can give a similar description. Many see the potential in the second-year forward, and he still has all the physical gifts, but there’s still a lot of work to do for Labissiere to reach those heights. They want him to be more aggressive for the rest of summer league.
“I told (Labissiere) yesterday at practice I was going to make sure to get the ball to him,” said Kings summer league coach Jason March on Wednesday. “There’s not a lot of players you can tell ‘Go get 40,’ but he is so unselfish I told him before the game, ‘Go get 40, go get 40 tonight’ because you know he’s still going to play the right way.”
Labissiere had perhaps his best showing of summer league in Wednesday’s 69-56 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at Thomas & Mack Center with 19 points and nine rebounds.
The Kings played without De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Malachi Richardson, which created more opportunities for Labissiere.
But generally, Labissiere isn’t concerned about how the Kings get him involved.
“It doesn’t matter who we run the first couple of plays for,” he said. “I’m going to play hard no matter what and do what I’ve got to do. Whether they run plays for me or not, it’s still basketball. You’ve got to go out there and make it happen.”
Labissiere is expecting more of himself, using the summer to improve not just his game, but his leadership skills – especially when the Kings have four draft picks on the roster.
“I’m comfortable,” Labissiere said. “I try not to talk too much. I’m a guy who leads by example, and that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
Labissiere will break from his quiet demeanor when needed.
“On the court I’m going to talk no matter what,” Labissiere said. “And if there are some things I need to say I’ll voice my opinion once and a while.”
Labissiere spent most of his offseason in Sacramento working out at the team practice facility.
Regardless of the results in summer league, Labissiere is confident the work he’s done since the end of his rookie season has him in position to continue to improve.
“I’m good,” Labissiere said. “I’ve been working all summer and I can’t wait to get in the gym after this, summer league, I’m looking forward to it. I already know what I need to work on. I have two months before training camp to keep working, keep getting in the weight room. So I’m excited about that.”