In their first full season post-DeMarcus Cousins, the Sacramento Kings have shifted their focus from building a capable roster around him to blossoming into a playoff contender a few years from now.

With eyes on guiding their young core, the Kings signed Vince Carter (40), Zach Randolph (36) and George Hill (31) this past summer. Of those veterans, Hill is the most important. Not only did he sign for three years (Carter for one, Randolph for two), but Hill has nine years as a very effective point guard under his belt.

Three weeks into the season, the Kings have a rotation comprised of eight players with two or fewer years of NBA experience. Rookies De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic are among the team’s leaders in minutes and points scored.

Vivek Ranadive may have salivated over Buddy Hield as the centerpiece of the Cousins trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in February, but Fox is the player the Kings must develop into a superstar if they want to expedite their rebuild.

That’s where Hill comes in.

“I definitely go to him for scouting reports and stuff like that, but it’s everything,” Fox said of Hill. “I ask him how the hotel is that we’re staying at, how’s the arena, where to eat, how’s everything.”

There are only 10 players in the league younger than Fox, including teammate Harry Giles, who won’t play until at least January (knees). That makes a veteran presence paramount to Sacramento’s ability to take the steps they must in the ensuing years.
“He’s a voice of experience and a built-in scouting report of the league,” Dave Joerger says of Hill. “He knows all the other guys and what they like to do. Guys like De’Aaron see it on video and hear it, but George has the experience to say what he likes to do with this guy; he tends to go this way or when he itches his eye twice he’s going to crossover, whatever it might be. He shares a lot with those guys.”

When he was introduced in Sacramento in July, the Kings might as well have put “Fox Mentor” on Hill’s placard. He said he would take the rookie under his wing and he’s done just that.