The team moved to Stockton in 2018, after taking the reigns from the regionally-renowned Reno Bighorns.
- Beginning with the 2017-18 season, the NBA Development League (NBA D-League) became the NBA G League as part of a multi-year expanded partnership between the NBA and Gatorade.
Below, I share three reasons I think you should keep an eye on the Stockton Kings this season!
1. First Year Head Coach Bobby Jackson
2010 was the year Jackson started his professional coaching journey. ‘B-Jax’ started as a regional scout and player development coach for the Kings (2010-2012) and Minnesota Timberwolves (2013). Coach Jackson then returned to SacTown as a collegiate scout for the Kings, spending three seasons in that role. In 2018-19 he became an assistant player development coach. He earned ANOTHER promotion after that and spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings.
Head Coach Jackson combines elite on-court experience, with a meticulous level of study and prep.
From James Ham of NBC Sports California. “I told them training camp was going to be hard, but I kept preaching teamwork, chemistry, having each other’s backs, defending at a high level, making other teams uncomfortable, and taking things away,” Jackson said.
Coach Jackson has already made an impact on the ‘Young Kings’ squad. Leading them to a 2021 NBA Summer League championship! Coach Jackson is known for setting a high standard for success, from himself and from his players. Those expectations are high, and rightly so. The Stockton Kings are known for producing NBA talent, and winning teams. That is my third reason to watch the Stockton Kings … but first, a personal story of mine!
Personal B-Jax Memory
I have a personal B-Jax story to share. Flashback to 2009 … it was a mild, spring Friday morning at the Arden Fair Mall. My American River College track teammate Chris and I just finished morning track practice. That day, we decided to skip the customary Adalbertos breakfast burrito and cruise the mall to kill some time.
We were ambling about the now-defunct Champs Sports, and we both felt the palpable presence of a locally significant persona walk into the room. NBA Sixth Man, Man of the People, B-Jax, Bobby Jackson, was browsing for shoes on a very vacant Friday morning at the mall.
How do we approach one of our childhood hoops heroes? Do we fully embrace our childhood fandom and go ask for autographs, while sopping up our drool with tall tees and various colored Vans (which happened to look like sneakers) on the shelves? Do we just observe this rare sighting of a Kings’ legend in the wild, allowing him to act on his own accord, without disturbing his natural process?
We decided to meet in the middle. Letting B-Jax be for a few minutes, making sure he didn’t leave without us seeing, while simultaneously showing him that we were there … and sane (though we were at the Arden Mall at 9 am on Friday, so I could see how our potential sanity could come into question …).
The time was finally right, it was now or never! We finally approached Mr. Jackson calmly, but with a known enthusiasm for all he has done for Sacramento! After obliging us with some chatter and a photo, he walked off into the abyss of the Arden Mall, probably with some fresh new Nike’s in hand.
Chris turned to me and said a phrase I’ve repeated many times over the years, with enthusiasm, “B-Jax is a man of the people.”
Shoot, I can see that slogan plastered on roadway billboards spanning the Sacramento Valley! From north to south, Marysville to Modesto, east to west from Pioneer to Patterson!
2. ‘NBA U’
In regards to producing NBA players, the Stockton Kings have been one of the best G-League teams over the past few seasons.
As of March 2020, Stockton was tied for first with the Sioux Falls G-League franchise in the category of ‘unique player call ups’ with eight. And rank second in the league in ‘non-parent call ups’ with six.
The G-League is becoming a competitive, talented, developmental ‘minor’ league system. This will lead to more ‘impact’ players being called up to the NBA and contributing to their teams.
As time goes on, I personally see the G-League becoming more and more like the MLB minor leagues. This will increase the potential to see a future NBA player, as well as the opportunity, in the future, of seeing a ‘rehabbing’ NBA veteran return to play, by playing a few games for the G-League affiliate.
I love minor league baseball, and I think that as time goes on, NBA fans will love the increased upgrades to the G-League.
3. Future ‘Big League’ Contributors
Kings fans have a great problem on their hands … a deep, talented and successful “minor league” squad. Kings fans can decide to turn Stockton’s G-League success into a negative or a positive, and I choose the positive.
Truly rabid Kings fans have much to look forward to this season and beyond in regards to minor league ‘call-ups’ making an impact on the ‘big league’ Sacramento team. Akin to what many San Francisco Giants fans have experienced recently; their depth in the minors often leads to ‘unknown’ call-ups making BIG impacts on the major league stage.
Over the last 15 playoff-less seasons, there have been many rainy, Tuesday night Kings games with little reason to watch past the mid-3rd quarter. With the ‘evolution‘ (though, I am more of a FIBA international basketball ball type guy when I am hoopin’ …) of the NBA G-League in terms of consistently producing NBA call-ups and impact players, Kings fans will always have something to look forward to watching in Stockon. Regardless of how the Sacramento squad is doing in the standings.
G-League/NBA Two–Way Contracts
- NBA teams may have up to two players under NBA Two-Way Contracts who will spend the bulk of the season in the NBA G League and not more than 45 days with their NBA team.
- Two-Way players are paid a corresponding daily amount based on the number of days they play in each league.
- Only players in their fourth NBA season or earlier can sign Two-Way Contracts, which can be for either one or two seasons.
Unfortunately, at the time of publishing this article, the Stockton Kings have not released their 2021-22 roster. I’ll be optimistic in thinking that the delay might mean there is an open tryout announcement coming up … a ‘209’ native like myself can only dream!
Stockton not only plays high-level hoops, but fans who tune in will be able to gain some insider info on the next wave of Sacramento Kings call-ups. This gives Kings fans some added hope, and at times, a less frustrating team to watch.
And well, you can get game tickets for below 20$ in Stockton … that’s about half the processing fee for an upper deck seat for a game in Golden1 Center! Ballin’ on a budget is a regional theme, from Vivek down to the local beertender (me)!
Stockton finished the COVID shortened 2019-20 regular season at 24-19, earning the title of G-League Pacific Division Champs – fifth seed in the western conference. That was before the G-League season and playoffs were canceled on March 12th, 2020. The Stockton Kings did not participate in the 2021-21 G-League season.
The 2021-22 G-League season schedule has not been released yet, but the Sacramento Kings start their regular season on October 9th, at Portland!
209 STAND UP!
Tom Witt has been in sports media for just under a decade. He started off freelancing, earning a role as an editor and Sacramento Kings writer at Overtime Heroics.
He also is an avid Spikeball fan/competitor (roundnet is the name of the sport played on Spikeball equipment) – Tom is also the head editor at the Roundnet World blog.