The Kings ended the preseason Friday night with only one of their three point guards healthy as the regular season nears.
Injuries to George Hill (right groin strain) and De’Aaron Fox (lower back contusion) aren’t considered reasons to be worried that Frank Mason will be the only point guard available for Wednesday’s opener against the Houston Rockets.
But the injuries to Fox and Hill have allowed more time for Mason, the Kings’ second-round pick, to show off the steady demeanor and play that made him one of the best college players in the nation last season at Kansas.
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“I’ve enjoyed coaching (Mason),” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “He’s going to make some mistakes but he’s also going to keep getting better and better.”
Logic suggests Mason would miss out on playing time with Hill and Fox on the team. But it’ll be hard to keep Mason on the bench all season. Joerger doesn’t anticipate playing time being a major issue with his point guards throughout the season. Players will get injured at times, and Hill can spend time at shooting guard.
Mason started Friday’s preseason finale, a 117-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. He had 10 points and three assists.
It’s easy to forget Mason is a rookie when around him. Part of it might be that he spent four years at Kansas. Mason carries himself like he’s not bothered and it shows on and off the court.
He was matched up against two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, but did not look rattled, which has been the case since summer league.
“I’ve been playing ball since the fourth or fifth grade, so I’m comfortable,” Mason said.
Of the three point guards, Mason was the only one to make it through the preseason without an injury. Joerger only played him for 18 minutes because he couldn’t afford to lose him.
But Joerger still remembers that Mason, for all the toughness he shows, is still a rookie.
“It’s a tough league and he’ll go out and you know what you’ll get from him is a guy who’ll compete his tail off and can make some shots, try to get up and guard you,” Joerger said. “Pretty tough dude and not afraid of taking shots at the end of the clock and certainly at the end of games.”
Joerger said part of the process this season will be getting to know the point guards better. There hasn’t been enough time for them to know exactly what he wants in every situation.
Mason said that process is going well.
“I think we’re all doing what he wants us to do,” Mason said. “We’re getting into the offense, we’re doing a good job of taking care of the ball and me and De’Aaron (are) still learning.”
Finding his rhythm
Malachi Richardson said Tuesday he needed to start making shots. The second-year shooting guard did that Friday, scoring 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
The game was a good chance for players like Richardson and second-year center Georgios Papagiannis (13 points, seven rebounds) to get some run.
They’ll start the season at the end of the rotation, so they finished the preseason with a positive experience.
That’s especially good for Richardson, who spent the end of last season and most of summer league injured.
Forget the record
The Kings finished the preseason 1-5, including five consecutive losses. No one was worried about that as the team believes it has made strides. The team isn’t close to having Joerger’s entire system down, but he saw signs the Kings are picking up what he wants them to do.
“There’s a good vibe in there,” Joerger said after Friday’s game. “It’s been a good camp and we’re looking forward to kicking off the opener on Wednesday.”