After a doozy of an opener on Wednesday night against the Rockets, the Kings have now found themselves in Dallas to face off against a Mavericks team that is much closer to bottoming out than contending. Make no mistake, Friday night’s game will in no way be a cakewalk; Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and face of the franchise Dirk Nowitzki have never been fond of playing to expectations. While Dirk is in the twilight of a Hall of Fame career, he’s found himself surrounded by a group of scrappy, go-getters that couldn’t have more collective chips on their shoulders than if they all went chin deep into a Jacuzzi filled with Lay’s. Look at that roster: Harrison Barnes, the young future stud for the Warriors before they sold their soul for superpowers and now the cast off for Kevin Durant. Nerlens Noel, an early “Process” blessed college stud who was churned up by the Hinkie machine before being spit out in Dallas for pennies on the dollar. Seth Curry, who found success with your very own Sacramento Kings despite a coach who may or may not have called him the worst player ever, in the history of the game. The entire roster is made of second rounders, and never-will-be’s who are desperately close to being something, and Rick Carlisle consistently pushes them to the very max of their talent. Add a hyper athletic, future stud point guard in Dennis Smith, Jr. and you’ve got yourself a competitive night of basketball, every night for 82 nights this season. But enough about the competition; Let’s talk Kings basketball!
When: October 20th, 5:30 pm PST
Where: American Airlines Center; Dallas Texas
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
“My Name is De’Aaron and I’m the Fastest Man Alive”: This is going to get sickening for someone who really doesn’t want to over-hype Sacramento’s new hype beast, but De’Aaron Fox is an absolute blur on the court. I have to own up a bit here, I didn’t want him last year in the draft. I was very much on the Dennis Smith Jr. train and when we moved up to five, I saw Elfrid Payton in Fox, and an Isaiah Thomas version 3.0 with Smith. While I’ve still got a secret basketball crush for Smith, Fox has almost 100% won me over to his side. It isn’t just that he’s lightning quick, it’s that he’s lightning quick and poised to boot. He’s fast but the game plays slow to him, and having a rookie without those deer-in-the-headlights looks is such a relief. Last bit of fawning, I haven’t seen a player that a Kings crowd gets up for more since, well, probably Jimmer Fredette. Remember hearing “SHOOT ITTT!” every time Jimmer crossed half court? Who else had that sense of hype around them? DeMarcus Cousins was always a force to be reckoned with, and those monster games he would go off for had Arco (you can’t make me call it anything else anymore) and G1C rocking, but every time De’Aaron Fox touched the ball on Wednesday night, the crowd just started to buzz. If the fruits of his hardwork bless him with a jumpshot here in the next few years, you’ll see him in All-Star jerseys and All-NBA teams for years.
Willie Wobbling: De’Aaron Fox might have gotten a mea culpa out of me for his combined efforts since being drafted, and I’m tempted to offer them up here as well for Mr. Trill himself, but I’ll reserve that for more than one game into the regular season. Willie had himself a great game Wednesday night. His offensive rebounding was fantastic, his blunders were manageable, and there was more than a few times where he found himself in the right place at the right time, but more due to his work to be there, and not a fortuitous coincidence. Friday night against the Mavericks he’s going to need to do more of the same. With Nerlens Noel, Salah Mejri, Dwight Powell and Bernard James to throw in there, the Mavs have a good mix of muscle and athleticism to toss Willie’s way. They also want Dirk to play center now, and if that’s the case, Willie just needs to not bite on Dirk’s pump fake and run the floor and he should have himself a barnburner. Here’s to Willie continuing to prove his doubters wrong.
Matchup of the Game
Dirk Nowitzki vs. Zach Randolph: In a match-up of former 2010 Western Conference All-Star teammates, Dirk Nowitzki and Zach Randolph are still as athletic and- okay, now for all of you that didn’t fall asleep at your desk reading this; De’Aaron Fox vs. Dennis Smith, Jr. is the best match-up against rookie point guards this season. Both are blessed with a wild amount of athleticism; Fox going end-to-end, Smith going floor-to-ceiling. Fox is a cool and collected player, Smith is an aggressive playmaker with vinegar flowing through his veins. Think back to De’Aaron’s opening night and imagine how excited you’d be if he got himself 16 points, 10 assists and finished a couple alley oops above the rim. That’s how Dallas is reacting to Smith’s opening night statline. Markelle Fultz might be a better long term prospect, Lonzo Ball might have the hype and stans to back him up, but the two most exciting rookie point guards in the league are these two guys right here. Every night will be a test for De’Aaron Fox in the NBA, but with whispers in the fall air about a Kings Rookie of the Year this time next spring, tonight is a match-up he’ll have to make his mark on if he’s gonna stand a chance. Now back to your regularly scheduled matchup- and that is why I think Dirk Nowitzki and Zach Randolph are probably the two best power forwards in the history of the game, and it isn’t even close.
Prediction: Seth Curry goes to the Kings bench to give his old friends Boogie and Rudy a hug, can’t find them, figures he’ll go see Coach Karl to bury the hatchet, and can’t find him either. He goes home that night, watches The Leftovers, figures out life is devoid of all sense and that only in singular, fleeting moments with loved ones can he find reasons to feel fulfilled in his life. He demands a trade to the Warriors that night.
Willie Cauley-Stein crosses up Dirk Nowitzki then dunks on him. Kings win.
Kings: 102, Mavs: 98