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Kings vs. Wizards Preview: The Fox vs. A Wall

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With De’Aaron Fox’s first start in his young NBA career looming, he’ll have to take on fellow speedster and All-Star point guard John Wall in an early Sunday afternoon game.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Sacramento Kings Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Wake up, losers! You’re gonna miss the game! Sunday’s match-up against the Washington Wizards is Sacramento’s first 3 pm start of the season and our first chance to see if Kelly Oubre can get so mad that he pets our shooting guards face, for the second game in a row! Coming off a loss to the Warriors which featured a full on tumbling fisticuff between the two teams, the three win, two loss Wizards are going to be, well, a little grumpy. To counter their attitude, Dave Joerger has thrown a box of puppies (and one fox kit) out onto the court for the Wizards to have some fun with; De’Aaron Fox and Skal Labissiere are presumed starters for today’s game! So let’s sit back, kick our feet up, and pray to the Basketball Gods that John Wall and De’Aaron Fox are friends. John, please don’t hurt him, he’s a good boy.

Let’s talk Kings basketball!

When: 3 pm PST; Sunday, October 29th

Where: Golden 1 Center; Sacramento, CA

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

Skalibrate Those Expectations: The most welcome change to the starting lineup for Sunday’s game has got to be Skal Labissiere getting the nod at power forward. For at least one night (Z-Bo is getting rest, he ain’t dead), Kings coaching staff and fans will get a solid look at how Skal can operate in the starting unit. So what should fans be expecting with Skal as a starter? For one, an uptick on the defensive end. Skal’s length and youth should better serve the team defense than 36 year old Randolph and he should be able to rotate a bit quicker while presenting more of a shotblocking threat as well. Though it’s early, the Kings have shown the league that they aren’t really a team that is going to block many shots. Skal and Kosta Koufos are the only two Kings averaging a block a game, and the Kings are the 4th worst in the entire league with just 3.7 a game. So like I said, Skal will pose more of a shotblocking threat; we’ll just have to wait and see if that actually translates into some tangible swattage.

On the other side of the court, Sacramento should be able to set up their offense a bit quicker with Skal running the floor. Skal has also started this season shooting well from every single spot on floor, so in theory he’ll be able to draw defenders out with his small sample sizes, opening up some room for his guards to cut that Zach Randolph’s 34.1% shooting on 11 attempts just wasn’t doing. With the speed of De’Aaron Fox and the craftiness of Buddy Heild and Bogdan Bogdanovic, any extra room to work with spells good things for a Sacramento offense trying to find its groove. Starting Skal for one game to rest Randolph might not jumpstart the Kings into another level, but it sure as heck won’t hurt anything either.

Matchup of the Game

Will vs. Not Picking the Obvious Matchup: I don’t think I have to sugar coat this, dance around it, play some sort of misdirection game in which I describe a player and then pull the rug out from under you because it was actually a different guy. Today is gonna be right to the point: De’Aaron Fox is starting, and his first matchup is against fellow Kentucky point guard product, John Wall. Wall is the player that is most readily brought up when trying to describe De’Aaron Fox and his speedy potential in the league, and now Kings fans finally get to see that match-up materialize in Fox’s very first starting gig in the NBA. If Fox is going to get the better of his matchup, he’s going to have to do it against a point guard who is averaging 22.4 points, 10.6 assist and is currently tied for team leader in blocks at 1.2 a game. Compounded by the fact that Wall is going to be down some teammates (probably Bradley Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr.), and we’ve got a grumpy Wall who is going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting this game.

So how does De’Aaron Fox impress today against a man just as fast, 25 lbs heavier, and looking to get his team to a playoff mindset early in the season? The answer is: play within himself. Fox isn’t a great shooter, so he shouldn’t come out tonight looking to drop 6 three’s. He’s 5 games into his NBA career, and still has much to learn on the offensive and defensive end, so he should be passing up good attempts in the sake of getting to _____ number of assists or steals either. Fox has been composed to start this season, and even when he tried to bring the Kings back in the final frame against the Pelicans on Thursday night, it didn’t really feel like hero ball either. If Fox plays to his strengths, and doesn’t focus on the amazing talent tasked with stopping him tonight, there’s a good chance that Kings fans will be impressed, and, if he totally flops, it’s a learning moment for him and we’re one game close to Luka Doncic.

Prediction: Without his Double-B Arch Nemesis to guard him, Bogi Bodanovic drives all over the Washington Wizards. Crafty layups, open three pointers, assists that materialize out of nowhere, Bogdanovic plays the role of conquering hero. Meanwhile, in the maze of concrete underneath the Golden 1 Center, Bradley Beal will sit, listening to the cheers. “BOGDAAAN BOGDANOVIC” comes in, muffled by screams and cheers above. A lapse of quiet and then “BOGDAAAN BOGDANOVIC” again. “BOGDAAAN BOGDANOVIC” AGAIN. Over and over, over and over the whole night.

BOGDAAAN BOGDANOVIC

POP ... the basketball Beal was holding is flattened. He drops it, and walks out of the dark and towards the direction of the team bus. Somewhere, sometime Bogdan will pay. But not tonight.

Kings: 112, Wizards: 109