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‘He’s a fighter’: Harry Giles lives up to the hype as Kings wrap up summer league

Harry Giles ready to play tough basketball

Harry Giles talks about his first game in two years against the Los Angeles Lakers
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Harry Giles talks about his first game in two years against the Los Angeles Lakers

So much of the hype surrounding the Kings and this year’s NBA summer league centered on Harry Giles.

Drafted 20th overall in 2017 and held out his first season, Giles’ exploits in practice became stories of myth — because no one outside of the Kings’ organization saw much of what Giles did there.

The gist of what many within the organization said seemed to be, “just wait until you see Harry.”

Everyone saw Giles in summer league, and he gave everyone reason to begin to believe the hype. He showed he could impact games with his scoring, rebounding, passing and defense.

But Giles’ play wasn’t the only thing to take away, as the Kings’ summer play has come to an end. Here are five takeaways from summer league:

Giles plays with an edge

Among many things said about Giles last season was that he’d be the kind of personality the Kings need on the floor.

That proved to be right during summer league.

Giles was fired up from the first game and brought an intensity the Kings need from their young players.

“There’s a certain passion that only comes out in the heat of the battle,” said Kings summer league coach Larry Lewis. “He’s practiced, but in the game I didn’t see a shy person, I didn’t see anyone that was intimidated by anyone or anything. I saw a very passionate competitor which says a lot. that alone, that mentality takes athletes a long way.”

The Kings weren’t a team that racked up technical fouls last season, but Giles figures to be called for a few this upcoming season. He’ll have to learn NBA officiating and what will or will not be allowed.

Giles was called for three technical fouls in his last two games and was ejected from his last contest after two technicals.

But for a team that’s been labeled too nice too often, the Kings can live with some intensity on the floor from Giles.

“He’s a fighter,” Lewis said. “When you’re aggressive and intense it’s just a thin line between almost losing it anyway. He’s young but not as young as it seems. He’s going to be awesome. I thought it was great to see him.”

The answer at small forward?

The Kings cannot base their pursuit of a veteran small forward solely on Justin Jackson’s summer league play. But the second-year forward put on a good showing most of the summer, averaging 19 points in four games in Las Vegas.

Jackson also figured out ways to stay aggressive after a slow start in the first game of the California Classic at Golden 1 Center.

Jackson looked calm and under control, as he should after three years in college and one season in the NBA. He began his rookie season in the starting lineup and made a case that he should be considered for that role again.

“I think Justin’s already a bright individual,” Lewis said. “I think we saw some growth in him as well which was awesome to see. We spend a lot of time teaching and developing and it takes time to do that. And it seems to me he’s taken to development quite well.”

Mason’s experiment

Frank Mason III made it his goal to become a better floor general this summer by focusing on getting his teammates involved rather than his own offense.

Coaches have been working with Mason on the court and through film study to help him in this pursuit.

“He played a certain way in college and it got him a lot of good notoriety and he got to the NBA,” Lewis said after Mason’s 12 assists in Tuesday’s win over Memphis. “Our message a lot is sometimes you have to change what you do in the NBA, it’s a lot different than college so I think he’s learning that. He’s getting a better feel for the game, and I think he’s controlling the pace a little better.”

The second-year guard from Kansas averaged 8.0 assists over his final three summer league games.

Mason sat out the Kings’ final two games with a sprained right ankle.

The Kings haven’t moved to add a veteran point guard, so they need Mason to continue to grow to give them stability alongside De’Aaron Fox.

Back to the lab

Rookie Marvin Bagley III had some good and bad in his first foray into NBA basketball before a bruised pelvic bone July 7 ended his run in summer league.

Bagley shot 15 of 42 in the summer while learning how to find his offense in a pro-style game. The Kings gave the ball to Bagley in multiple spots on the floor and even let him shoot 3s.

Bagley is said to be a studious player. He’ll be able to take what he saw in the summer and use it to prepare for training camp.

Fox showed flashes, but it would have been nice to see more

Fox only played in one summer league game. He had 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the opener to the California Classic on July 2.

But a sore left Achilles would keep Fox out for the remaining two games of the Classic. He was not scheduled to play in Las Vegas.

Fox is expected to be the engine in a fast-paced offense in the regular season. The only way to get his teammates ready for that is more time on the floor with Fox, who was also dinged up during last year’s summer league.

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