4 Questions the Sacramento Kings Look to Answer in NBA Summer League

Bryant West@bswest5Correspondent IJuly 14, 2012

4 Questions the Sacramento Kings Look to Answer in NBA Summer League

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    The Sacramento Kings tip off their summer league tonight with a 7:00 p.m. (Pacific time) showdown against the Charlotte Bobcats

    Rookie big man Thomas Robinson is Sacramento's biggest attraction, as the No. 5 overall selection will get his first chance to show off his skills for Kings fans.

    Guard Jimmer Fredette will be running the show as the team's designated point guard, while third-year center Hassan Whiteside looks to get some serious playing time, as well. 

    Here is the Kings schedule—all times are Pacific.

    Friday, July 13: Kings vs. Bobcats, 7 p.m. (NBA TV)

    Saturday, July 14: Kings vs. Lakers, 5 p.m. (NBA TV)

    Monday, July 16: Kings vs. Rockets, 3:30 p.m. (NBA TV)

    Wednesday, July 18: Kings vs. Raptors, 3:30 p.m. (NBA TV)

    Thursday, July 19: Kings vs. Celtics, 3:30 p.m. 

    Let's check out the four biggest questions surrounding the Kings as they enter the summer league.

Can Jimmer Fredette Return to College Form?

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    Jimmer Fredette had a very rocky rookie season.

    He was completely outplayed by teammate Isaiah Thomas, who was selected 50 picks after Fredette in the 2011 draft. Fredette struggled with his confidence, his defense and, strangely, even his shot.

    Now is the time for Fredette to raise the team's confidence in him

    He lost the point guard job to Isaiah Thomas last year, and there is no question that Thomas is the probable starter for this upcoming season—and he should be. Still, Fredette is absolutely important to the Kings, and the summer league is a great chance for him to prove it.

    Thomas has been excused from the NBA Summer League, as he finishes his classes to earn his degree at the University of Washington.

    That may be the publicized excuse, but one has to wonder how much of it was about Thomas and how much was about Fredette.

    Thomas doesn't have much to prove, especially not in the summer league. Fredette, meanwhile, has to prove he can handle the NBA game and prove he can play the point. He needs to prove he can run a team and he needs to prove he can play NBA defense.

    I wrote this piece on Fredette near the end of the season in which I said that King fans shouldn't be worried about Fredette's lack of playing time and argued that the outrageous expectations Fredette faced were detrimental to his development.

    Now is the time for Fredette to get back on track. 

Is Thomas Robinson the Force the Kings Need?

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    The Kings celebrated when Thomas Robinson fell to them at No. 5, and the immediate sense across the NBA landscape is that the Kansas big man will be a fantastic fit with Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

    Robinson may have felt he should have been the top pick, but now he has to prove it.

    Will he dominate the glass as he did in college (11.8 rebounds a game his junior year)? Can he play NBA-level defense? How will his post game handle up in the pros?

    We may not know those answers early (especially not in the summer league), but this is the first chance King fans will get to see Robinson's diehard playing style. 

    Luckily for Robinson, his first chance will be tonight against the Bobcats, who passed on him with the No. 2 pick.

    He'll have a great shot at revenge early.

Can Hassan Whiteside Play in the NBA?

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    Center Hassan Whiteside was considered a steal when the Kings got him in the second round in the 2010 draft.

    While he was impressive in the 2010 summer league (6.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 blocks), Whiteside saw his development hampered by a mix of injuries and mediocre performances.

    The Kings really lack a shot-blocker, and Whiteside has the potential to fit that role.

    He was once the NCAA's record holder for career blocks (until Kentucky's Anthony Davis broke the record) and he's got excellent athleticism...he just needs to prove he has what it takes to play consistent NBA minutes.

    Will this be the year Whiteside breaks out?

    It better be, or he won't have many more chances.

Do Any of the Unsigned Summer League Players Have a Chance to Make the Team?

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    Here is the remainder of the Kings Summer League roster:

    • G Josh Akognon, Cal State Fullerton (Rookie)
    • G Patrick Christopher, Cal (Rookie)
    • F Kenny Gabriel, Auburn (Rookie)
    • F Yancy Gates, Cincinnati (Rookie) 
    • F Darnell Jackson, BC Donetsk in the Ukraine (3 years of NBA experience)
    • G Dominique Johnson, D League Texas (Rookie)
    • F Jarrod Jones, Ball State (Rookie)
    • G Lazeric Jones, UCLA (Rookie)
    • F Rob Kurz, SLUC Nancy in France (2 years of NBA experience)
    • F Michael Lee, BC Donetsk in the Ukraine (Rookie)
    • F Tony Mitchell, Alabama (Rookie)
    • G James Nunnally, UC Santa Barbara (Rookie)
    • G Edgar Sosa, Sutor Montegranaro in Italy (Rookie) 
    • G/F Alex Young, IUPUI (Rookie)

    Assuming the Kings pick up the option on Hassan Whiteside, the roster currently stands at 13 players.

    If they re-sign swingman Terrence Williams, they'll have 14 players under contract. It seems unlikely that any of their summer league players could make the team—unless they blow the Kings coaching staff out of the water.

    If I were to pick a dark horse to make the team, it would be Alabama's Tony Mitchell.

    Mitchell is an athletic swing man who could play small forward, a position in which the Kings badly need help. Still, the smart money is on no one on this list making the Kings roster.