Skal Labissiere ready to make an impact on the team
The first thing people noticed this week about Skal Labissiere is that he looks bigger and stronger.
“It’s amusing,” Labissiere said Monday at Kings media day. “The people who’ve been around me in my inner circle, they see the work I’ve put in, so it’s no surprise to them.”
It’s a credit to an offseason training regimen that helped the 6-foot-11 forward add nearly 20 pounds before his third NBA season, one that figures to feature a furious fight for minutes in the frontcourt.
The Kings have eight players 6-foot-8 or taller who will likely be on the opening-day roster, barring a trade, including rookies Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles III.
Labissiere said he spent time this summer in Memphis, where he lived for five years, working with a personal trainer from high school, changing his diet, trying to get more sleep and “staying away from everybody.”
He said he had a personal chef, drank a lot more water and protein shakes and ate more fruit. As for the sleep, he likes to get eight hours a day — “but I’m still working on that,” he said with a laugh.
“The focus was to, while I’m putting on weight, to get more explosive, be quicker and run faster,” Labissiere said. “I’ve done all of those things.”
On Thursday, the Kings’ third day of training camp, he said he’s noticing a difference, not just in himself but in his teammates as well.
“On the court, we go at each other and make it tough on each other, but afterward, we’re homies,” he said. “You can tell that we’re more experienced. ... Our basketball instincts are taking over more.”
Labissiere enters this season feeling “stronger and more steady” — and more confident. He said won’t overthink things on the court.
He showed promise late in his rookie season, when he appeared in 33 games. He scored a career-high 32 points in a road victory over Phoenix on March 15, 2017, and later had a 25-point effort in a loss at Houston.
Despite playing in nearly twice as many games last season, his scoring and rebounding averages slightly dipped and he reached 20 points just once.
“The strength was the biggest thing because I feel like the little easy shots I missed last year was because of (being bumped),” he said. “I feel like I can convert more. ... The game plan was to be physical.”
Labissiere said it’s showing in practice.
“The amount of conditioning we’ve been doing, I think it’s been good for us because coach is emphasizing playing fast this year,” he said.
Competition among the bigs has been good during camp, Labissiere said, and teams should take notice no matter who’s on the floor.
“We’re all pretty athletic,” he said. “We can switch (defensively) from one (point guard) through five (center) and I feel like, defensively and offensively, we can outrun anybody in the league.”
Roster addition — The Kings signed Brandon Austin to the training camp roster Wednesday.
A 6-foot-6 guard out of Northwest Florida State, Austin played 15 games with the Reno Bighorns last season, averaging 9.1 points and 2.7 rebounds.
Williams was selected No. 2 overall in the 2017 NBA G League draft, one pick after Sacramento State standout Eric Stuteville.
The Kings still have a two-way contract available after signing Kentucky forward Wenyen Gabriel to one, but there’s no indication that they will use it on Austin or one of the other camp invitees.