It’s always tough to get into a lineup and try and fill another player’s shoes, especially the shoes of a talented player. But when they’re your own shoes, that adds an odd element to a return.
For Jesse King, how he would fit back into his own shoes was one of the biggest unknowns coming into the 2017-18 Swarm season. No one was sure how he would look after missing all of 2017 with a lower body injury.
King was a useful facilitator during his rookie season in 2016, finishing second in assists on the team (55) and making the All-Rookie Team.
But in 2017-18, King showcased his dangerous scoring abilities, a tag-team with assistant captain Shayne Jackson that was responsible for over a quarter of the Swarm’s 2017-18 goals for total (61-of-226).
“Having him back and healthy, I was really looking forward to that, and he obviously didn’t disappoint,” Swarm assistant coach Dan Ladouceur said. “Such a big body and a great mind for the game.”
For his delayed sophomore season, King finished with 69 points (28G, 41A), 69 loose balls, and a .179 SPCT. His 28 goals are a new career-high and were good for fourth-most on the Swarm in 2017-18.
It was a pleasant contrast to his stellar rookie season where he primarily fed the ball around. Everyone knows King can score, but the 2017-18 season showcased how dangerous he can be when he fits in with the Swarm’s system.
“His goal production definitely increased as soon as he figured out he’s not just a feeder, that he can be a legitimate goal-scoring threat, and the righties were able to find him and get his timing down and stuff,” Ladouceur said. “And that takes a bit of time. As much as he was around the guys last year, he’s not playing at game-speed. As soon as he got up to game-speed and again, found the rhythm and timing and the righties finding him, we saw the production increase.”
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, the Ohio State University product provided a big body on the left side to complement the dangerous big righties the Swarm had on the opposing side of the floor, your Randy Staats’s and Kiel Matisz’s.
Coupled with the speed and dangerous creativity of the Thompsons and Jackson, King fit well into the diversified Swarm arsenal.
With Matisz and Jordan Hall picked by the Philadelphia Wings in the Expansion Draft, King became the biggest Swarm offense body. Next season, how he leads from the left side will play a significant role in the Swarm’s offense trying to reclaim its 2017 glory.
A full season with a familiar system under his belt, his dynamic duo partnership with Jackson, and his realization of his legitimate goal-scoring abilities. King is going to shock in 2018-19.
And it’s going to be fun.
Royalty missile incoming | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Best Game of the Season:
Home opener’s are always special. It’s a personal start of the season for fans and players alike, a chance for new beginnings. With the Swarm starting the 2017-18 season off with two losses, a new beginning is just what Georgia needed.
And it got it, in no small part thanks to the four goals King slammed in. He had better games than the Swarm’s home opener, including six five-points-plus games, but his four goals that night against Rochester were emphatic.
It was the third time in his career that King had scored four goals in a game, but that third one was special since it showed how King had moved on from his injury.
Case in point was his third goal of the game, which opened up the scoring in the second half. Staats made a SOG, but it bounced off Matt Vinc. Posted behind the net, King snagged the ball before it touched the floor and moved toward the back of the net. Vinc thought King was going to try and dunk it behind his right shoulder and moved that way, but King stopped his momentum and leapt towards his left. Vinc kicked his leg up to try and block the shot, falling back and pulling the net with him to no avail as the ref signaled a good goal. Given the ball hit where the net would’ve been, the goal stood.
King would score his fourth of the night 23 seconds later, helping the Swarm secure its first win of the season.
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2017-18 Player Capsules: