Jason Thompson has drawn comparisons to Karl Malone and Sean Singletary was deemed by his coach as the most impressive Kings player of them all so far.
As summer league starts go, in other words, it could be worse.
Thompson, the forward out of Rider who was picked twelfth overall, runs the floor so well that an unknown member of the Utah coaching staff told the Kings he hadn't seen a big man go end-to-end like that since the Mailman himself. And Thompson does more than just get to his spots, too. He finishes.
Great hands, good hoops IQ in terms of finding his spot and going to work, obvious offensive skill and more than enough athleticism to put an exciting exclamation point on whatever move he chose from the arsenal. He did just that in the Kings' second game, when his three-point play (a finesse floater from 10 feet or so followed by a clutch free throw) in overtime gave the Kings a win over Portland. I've yet to key on what he's doing on the defensive end, so more on that later. Overall, though, the consensus that he's NBA ready is being confirmed in the minds of the Kings coaching staff.
Meanwhile, Singletary - the point guard out of Virginia taken No. 42 overall - had played so well early on here that I couldn't find anyone who would stop at mild praise. They all gushed, and they gushed mostly about his presence.
Whereas he was almost entirely a scoring point guard in college, Singletary has made the transition to being a distributor look easy. One play that's stuck in my mind was from the Portland game - the ultra-quick Singletary broke his man down atop the key, dove through the lane and drew two bigs his way and looked stuck only to find big Noel Felix with a wrap around pass to the right that ended with an easy finish (pardon the run-on here). The lovefest was tempered a tiny bit after last night, when Singletary (1 for 6 shooting, two assists, three turnovers in a blowout loss to Dallas) was among the many who struggled. Theus, however, remains pleased with the pick.
"That young man is tired," Theus said. "This is the first time I've seen him mishandle the ball. He's played extremely well since the (draft) workouts, and I haven't seen him mishandle the ball one time. He's played a lot of minutes, and these guys are burning it at both ends (alluding to the Las Vegas factor). Some of them shouldn't be, but the reality is that they are."
Theus mentioned that while he likes seeing Singletary share the ball, he wants to see that scoring punch return as well. On the other end, I've been very impressed with Singletary defensively. The former football player has feet like a cornerback, able to stay with his man in a full-court backpedal and be the sort of active pest that Ronnie Price used to be for the Kings. They love his up-tempo style as well, as he is looking to push it every time down the floor and does what the Kings of last season so often didn't - advance the ball with the pass on the break.
As for Patrick Ewing Jr., the forward out of Georgetown (picked No. 43 overall) has had a rough go of it. He didn't make much impact in the first two games and wasn't nearly as energetic as he needed to be, but there was some talk that a thigh injury was slowing him down. Sure enough, he missed the third game with a right thigh contusion.
Here's the game-by-game production from each of the picks thus far (Click on the names)...
- Sam Amick