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Q and A: How Sacramento’s rookie are adjusting to the NBA

Colby Jones and Jalen Slawson shared their adjustment process to the NBA, on and off the floor.
By | 23 Comments | Jul 10, 2023

Mar 23, 2023; Kansas City, MO, USA; Xavier Musketeers guard Colby Jones (3) during the team press conference at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

After being selected by the Sacramento Kings on June 22nd, Colby Jones and Jalen Slawson got right into it. Following the draft, they flew out to Sacramento to see the city and facilities, met some of their new teammates and coaches, and had their introductory press conferences.

Days later, Summer League training camp had started with the California Classic around the corner. Jones and Slawson both played two games at Golden 1 Center before immediately traveling to Las Vegas. One of their minimum of four games in Vegas is in the books.

That’s all taken place within a little more than two weeks. Following practice on Sunday morning, Jones and Slawson spoke with The Kings Herald about their experiences on and off the floor up to this point.

Q: What’s this process been like for you? With everything going so fast, one thing after the next, have you had a second to breathe?

Slawson: You kind of have to. If you don’t this process can overwhelm you. All the support staff here does a good job making sure that we’re taken care of. Anything we need medically, food-wise, whatever we need, we’re well taken care of. They’ve done a great job making sure we have everything that we need and trying to limit stressors.”

Q: Has it hit you that you’re an NBA player?

Slawson: Kinda. A little bit. It’s still kinda surreal out here. It kinda hit a little bit more after I signed the contract but every day it gets a little more real. The coaching gets a little bit harder. We’re kinda out of the cupcake faze and Luke is starting to push us harder, Dutch is starting to push us harder. So, they’re doing a great job forcing us to adjust, Colby and I especially. It’s been great.

Q: What’s it like for you adjusting to the NBA game?

Slawson: It’s different. I’ve talked about it a lot. Everybody is a lot faster, a lot stronger, a lot smarter, everything happens a lot faster. You’re expected to pick up on adjustments a lot quicker but it’s great. This is what we strived for our whole life. It’s what we dreamed about and have worked so hard for so now we’re here and we have to make the adjustment. We don’t have a choice. If you don’t, you’ll be gone.

Q: Do you feel it from the three-point line at all?

Slawson: Yeah. You can feel it at the three-point line. You get adjusted to it. You get the time in predraft to adjust to it and I spent a lot of time in Miami working on it so the three-point line is probably not the biggest adjustment now. The biggest adjustment is everybody is as big, as fast, as strong as me. I would say that’s the biggest adjustment.

Q: What about that specifically, like when you’re playing the five like last game, how tough is that to get accustomed to with that size difference you’re talking about?

Slawson: I mean, it’s tough but you got to do your work early. Dutch and Luke do a good job coming up with schemes that’ll help me run the five. My teammates do a good job talking to me, letting me know where they are. They do a good job having my backside when I’m in a front, do a great job helping me rebound, so it’s all good. It all plays into the game plan.

Q: What have you seen from Neemias Queta out there?

Slawson: Neemi’s been great. Neemi’s a great leader, first of all. Tells me everything that he has to know and has taken me under his wing. He’s really physically imposing, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic. He can run the floor really well and he’s seen a lot of ball. I think this is year three for him, so he understands that it’s kinda like now is his time and you can see that. He completely took over the Atlanta game, we definitely don’t win that game if he doesn’t play well down the stretch. So, with Neemi it’s like he can do it all. He can give us everything. Protects the rim, rebounds, runs the floor, sets good screens, finishes very well offensively, offensive rebounds.

Q: For yourself how do you feel like the Cal Classic went and that first game in Vegas? 

Slawson: Still working a little bit of nerves, but I feel like I’m never gonna be a guy who’s gonna give you 20 a night. I’m gonna kinda do a little bit of everything, get a couple of assists, grab a couple of boards, maybe throw an open three in here and there but I feel like still working out the nerves, still getting adjusted, I’m starting to get a little more confident. The coaching staff has done a great job, the team has done a great job instilling confidence in me. The adjustment period is kinda over now, it’s go time. You got maybe another game to finish your adjustment period and after that, you’re kinda getting into being who you are.

Q: What’s this process been like for you? So much back to back, just what’s it been like up to this point?

Jones: It’s been really fun. A lot of things are being thrown at me but I’m just trying to take it all in. It’s my first time really out here in Vegas and Summer League so just really trying to enjoy with my guys, enjoy with the team, and it’s been a great process as well.

Q: You alright with the heat?

Jones: Nah, this heat is something else. It just like overwhelms you. I’m trying to get used to it but I feel like you really can’t.

Q: What’s the adjustment been like on the court when you’re getting used to the NBA game, what are the biggest adjustments there?

Jones: Getting used to the speed and the skill level. I feel like everyone on the court has a great skill level, a lot stronger, a lot faster. So, I just feel like that’s just the physical part and then on the mental side just really making the right reads cause with the defenses being more athletic you got to be quicker in your decisions. So, just kinda getting adjusted to all that.

Q: Is the three-point line an adjustment at all?

Jones: Yeah, I would say it was at first like right after I came out of college but I feel like throughout the summer just putting the work in with that so I’m getting more and more comfortable with it.

Q: At college, your last year, the three-point shot took a jump, what went into that?

Jones: I would just say a lot of reps. Just getting confidence from putting the time in and I feel like that’s really all it was.

Q: Positionally, we’ve seen you play one to three here, what do you feel is the difference in playing those different spots?

Jones: I feel like all of them have their own unique situations. Like the point, I haven’t really played that so I feel like that’s been really good for me just to try out different things and get reps at the one, guarding their one. And then being on the wing just being able to guard taller, more physical players. So, it’s all been really good.

Q: Do you feel the physicality difference? I feel like Luke (Loucks) has said that word to me a bunch so I can only imagine how many times he’s saying it to you guys.

Jones: It definitely was big, especially going around screens, trying to get around those, and then battling in the paint. So, yeah.

Q: When it comes to Neemi, what have you seen from him as you’ve got to know him on and off the court?

Jones: He actually helped me out with the wi-fi here in the hotel, so that was really cool for him to help me with that, but yeah he’s a beast down low in the paint. Last game, we kinda just fed him and he just carried us to that win. So, yeah, he’s been really good.

Q: Defensively, when it comes to ball pressure on these guys and how much faster these guys are, what are those adjustments like for you? When it comes to containing the ball, how has that been different?

Jones: I’ve been trying to pressure, that’s what they want us to do. So I’ve been trying to get used to that, but like you said the speed is quicker at this level so I’ve just been trying to adjust to that. Just trying my hardest out there, just trying to compete, I feel like that’s what it comes down to.

Q: Is there anybody on the team that you’ve gotten to pick their brain a lot? Like, in my mind, someone like Keon (Ellis) plays similarly to you but has a year of experience. Is there anybody that you’ve gotten to pick their brain?

Jones: Yeah. With Keon, I’ve actually been talking to him a lot. Just off the court things like life in the NBA. So, I’ve gotten kinda close with him and then I feel like just everybody. Trying to pick their brains like if I make a bad play I just talk to them, see what they would do, stuff like that. It’s been good.

The Kings return to action on Monday, facing the Los Angeles Clippers at 7:30 PM PT. The game will air on NBA TV.

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23 Comments
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Biscuit
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July 10, 2023 10:36 am

These guys sound like real team players, being welcomed by a team full of them. A real change from the bad old days. In particular, nobody said “Welcome to basketball hell” to them.

andy_sims
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July 10, 2023 10:52 am

Both sound like they’re working hard to build a solid foundation under themselves, and once that’s in place, it’ll just be a matter of opportunity and talent.

ArcoThunder
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July 10, 2023 11:54 am

Q: At what game in the NBA season would you expect to be so dominate on both sides of the ball that Mike Brown has no choice but to move you into the starting lineup? How glorious would that be?

BestHyperboleEver
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July 10, 2023 1:42 pm

Hi, I don’t get a chance to engage much here anymore, but I wanted to say two obvious things that stand out but don’t get talked about enough in basketball fan circles:

Just how fucking good these guys are at basketball. Even the fringe guys are truly incredible players that have put in countless hours to get to this point.How equally good the TKH crew is at what they do. We are absolutely spoiled by the content, legwork and analysis on this site.

Last edited 1 year ago by BestHyperboleEver
Hamlet1989
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July 10, 2023 4:25 pm

You are missed. And yeah, these guys are good. When Monte is comfortable “running it back” with hardly any changes, that speaks volumes. Even Delly was court-side in Vegas! I listened to Indiana media to get better acquainted with Duarte, and they’re in agreement, Chris’s lucky to be headed to a place with such a strong culture. In Sacramento!

murraytant
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July 10, 2023 5:10 pm

yes, missed.
I do wish Colby kept his head up more to see the open guys and kept a better handle. But I am nit picking.

lakerssuck2002
July 10, 2023 5:41 pm

Agreed.

TKH having access is so great to me. Much appreciated. Out here in PHX, I can feel far away, but I feel a part of the city, team and community every time i get a notification there is a new article here.

Thank you!

Last edited 1 year ago by lakerssuck2002
Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
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July 11, 2023 7:58 am
Reply to  lakerssuck2002

Hope you’re surviving the heatwave out there in Phoenix!

lakerssuck2002
July 11, 2023 7:32 pm
Reply to  Klam

Trying. Thanks for the concern

Hamlet1989
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July 10, 2023 4:19 pm

I’m excited to be learning to like ColeSlaw.

AnybodyButBagley
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July 10, 2023 5:25 pm

Anjali’s future players.

Bluejohn
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July 10, 2023 5:56 pm

A friend asked me to tell you to please never bring her name up in a TKH thread again…(he’s shy)

BestHyperboleEver made a great point about the G league guys. I’m more guilty than most but it’s so easy to look at these guys as scrubs who if they’re lucky will get time playing in the Puerto Rican or the Syrian League (or wherever)but most of them are probably more skilled at their job than many of us at ours.

The teamwork and Kings support is something we haven’t heard a lot of from previous Summer League rosters.

AnybodyButBagley
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July 10, 2023 9:39 pm
Reply to  Bluejohn

They are great players but not NBA players. I truly do hope that they do something for this team eventually.

I also enjoy the fact that this team is actually an NBA team. For over a decade this was a group of basketball players far below an NBA caliber team.

TheGrantNapear
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July 10, 2023 7:05 pm

Giles and IT working out for teams in Vegas.
Just sayin 👀

NorCalKingsFan
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July 10, 2023 7:09 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

I honestly wish both gentlemen the best of luck, I hope they find NBA homes. Injuries took so much from both of these guys and through it all they’ve continued to fight.

Hamlet1989
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July 10, 2023 7:50 pm
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan

I’ll pray for a miracle

NorCalKingsFan
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July 10, 2023 7:23 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

In regards to their skills, I leave it MM to decide.

Personally, I think Ford has put his hands around the 3rd PG role due to how well he’s played recently and he’s angling for the final 2-way.

Could the Kings use a big-man like Giles who is best at operating as a passing/screening hub in the high-post? It would be one hell of comeback story and he’s always been a favorite of mine. The main problem for him signing with the Kings is the lack of available playing time.

RAP87
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July 11, 2023 10:45 am
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

I wouldn’t mind the Kings signing IT as our 3rd PG. The dude can still ball and run an offense. If Fox or Davion goes down with an injury or illness, I think IT can definitely play 15-18 minutes coming off the bench.

murraytant
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July 10, 2023 9:42 pm

What happed to Q in second half of game.

and, my bet is that Jones outscores the duds Poz- so far C, Jones is scoring 1.5 ppg more than the duds prized rookie.

Hamlet1989
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July 11, 2023 12:23 pm

Imo. Zion is still the #1 young prospect in the world, but if he can’t bring himself to push away from the table a bit quicker, his NBA career is gonna be like what Bo Jax was in the NFL. Coulda’ Shoulda’ Woulda’.

Mike120
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July 11, 2023 1:34 pm
Reply to  Hamlet1989

Yep. Zion needs to get down to 235. He’s carrying an extra 3+ bowling balls around on his feet and joints.

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