Golden State Warriors vs. Sacramento Kings
3:30 PM PT
Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
TV: NBA TV
Blog Buddy: Sactown Royalty
The Warriors may have gotten crushed 90-71 against the Kings the last time these two teams played in Summer League.
Sacramento may have a top-ten pick on its Summer League roster in Willie Cauley-Stein.
There may even be a "Kings 2014 Summer League Champions" banner hanging by the court in the Thomas and Mack Center.
But Summer League is not about wins and losses, nor about how many top draft picks are on one team's roster. The basketball is clearly not always at NBA-level; there's a reason I've seen so many European coaches and agents in Vegas -- some players will have to go overseas to realize their dream of playing professional basketball. It's about experimenting, learning, and gaining experience. (Though it's not on the court, our own Bram Kincheloe saw Kings owner Vivek Ranadive experimenting with Virtual Reality goggles. Yep.) It's about taking chances, trying out new passes, new shots. It's about, as Nate wrote, "the potential that you might see something special begin to unfold."
For NBA head coaches and assistant coaches here, it's about seeing who could be a good fit on an NBA roster -- as Justin Holiday, who went from being undrafted and unheralded to being on the Warriors roster as the regular season began, was last season.
Luke Walton, the Warriors' Summer League head coach, has coached three games thus far and has his opinions about how certain players and the team has played.
After the loss against the Kings last time out, Walton said: "We weren't ready for whatever reason. Back-to-back, less than 24 hours, maybe that was it; we've got a lot of young guys trying to learn the way of the NBA ... but we'll regroup, have a good practice, and be ready next time out."
Here's Walton on Stefan Nastic, who has improved throughout Summer League: "I told the guys at some point or another they're going to get a shot to play and prove themselves. It's all about embracing the opportunity, and Stefan has really done that. He took that to heart, and set an example of how to be a professional. Stepped in there, did really well, and I thought he's been [one of] our best players."
Walton also discussed 28-year-old Dominique Sutton, who has emerged as a defensive force for the Summer League squad. "I love Dominic, I love his heart," he said.
"We always talk about Draymond Green being the heart of our Warriors team, and that, that's kind of how Dom is for this team. He brings that toughness and that energy every play. He's a guy, whether he's playing or not, he'll pick it up, get the energy going for all of us."
In an interview with Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside, one of the fellow SB Nation writers staying in our "Blog House," Sutton agreed with his coach.
"Whatever I need to do and whatever role I need to fill, I'll do it," Sutton told Ridiculous Upside. "Coming off the bench allows me to spectate the game, and then come in, knowing full well exactly what I need to do. I can hop right in and play aggressively with some good defense."
For those on the Summer League roster, knowing what their roles would be on an NBA team might be just as important as actually producing in Vegas. It could mean the difference between making an NBA roster and going to Europe.