Frank Mason III began mentally preparing himself to fill in for De’Aaron Fox early Tuesday at shootaround, and he delivered in front of another sellout crowd at Golden 1 Center.
Fox, who was out with a sore left Achilles, watched on the sidelines as Mason tried to will the Kings up and down the court in a 71-54 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday in their second game of the California Classic summer league tournament.
The 5-foot-11 point guard finished with 16 points, five assists and four rebounds, while delivering consistent ball movement and only turning it over twice. He notched 16 points and nine assists in Monday’s 98-93 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s these qualities that Kings summer league coach Larry Lewis said he loves about the former second-round draft pick.
“I mean he’s got a lot of bulldog in him, and when he really, really wants to, you’ll see him just come up with the ball a few times,” Lewis said. “He’ll just take it and … he can be a little mean and really get after it defensively.
“He’s a kid that can pick the ball up fullcourt at different spurts of the game and really trigger some momentum-changing plays.”
However, if you ask Mason, he didn’t do too well despite being the only Kings starter with a positive (plus-1) plus/minus and posting the game's second-highest point total.
“We had a lot of breakdowns on the offense and defensive ends,” Mason said. “Some of the guys forgot the plays, and it’s my job to make sure they’re in the right spots and make sure everything is running perfectly, and I think I did a bad job of that tonight.”
Despite these breakdowns, Mason continued to harass opposing players with relentless pressure and three steals in just under 28 minutes.
“I really hate when someone scores on me, and I take it personal,” Mason said. “I just want to make the (offensive player) feel me every possession and make it as hard for him as I can every possession.”
If the Kings are without Fox again for the final game of the California Classic against the Miami Heat at 2 p.m. Thursday, forward Justin Jackson and company won’t be surprised to see Mason as the team’s primary ballhandler again.
“Frank played great minutes for us last year, so it’s nothing new seeing him out there trying to facilitate and be aggressive whenever he can and things like that, so that’s something we see all the time,” Jackson said.