Here’s the scoop: the Lakers are in town, on a second night of a back to back and Lonzo Ball has consigned himself to his untimely fate; death by Fox. After avoiding playing Sacramento during Las Vegas Summer League because of a “groin pull”, then again during pre-season with an “ankle tweak”; the duck stops here. The Lakers as a team are doing fairly well 18 games into the season, going 8-10 and currently sitting with the 8th best record in the West, less in part to do with Lonzo and more to do with their star rookie Kyle Kuzma but, a little more on him later. Pray for the Ball Family, and all former Kobe stans who still suffer from severe whiplash everytime their new idol actually passes the ball to a teammate. Must not be easy to root for a guy with worse shooting splits than a 45 year old man with one achilles and yet, bless their hearts, they’re trying. SIXTEEN CHAMPIONSHIPS BRO!!! Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Wednesday, November 22nd; 7:30 pm PST
Where: Golden 1 Center; Sacramento, CA
TV: ESPN, NBCSCA
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
Learn about the Lakers: The Laker’s aren’t half bad this year. Sure, they’re still garbage for trading a fantastic up-and-coming point guard in D’Angelo Russell for a couple of pogs because everyone in LA was sick of the ice-in-my-veins routine, but beside that the Lakers have a nice grouping of young talent picked from all over the draft boards. Let’s talk about how those guys are going to ensure our #1 pick this year in the draft. The Lakers play at the third fastest pace in the NBA, are the top team in the league in two point shots and makes, and are seventh in the league in two point percentage. As well as they shoot from inside the arc, they’re better at the Kings biggest issue; rebounding. The Lakers are the 7th best offensive rebounding team, 2nd best defensive rebounding team, which makes them the best overall rebounding team in the NBA. They do it by committee over in Lakerland. No one averages over 7.5 rebounds a game, but seven guys average over five a game for the Lakers. The Kings have just three; two come off the bench and the other is Z-Bo. Ball himself is second on the team in rebounds at 7.4 a game, but that’s what happens when you shoot like Kevin Martin on acid. Some other fun things to fret about; the Lakers are 6th in the league in assists, 7th in the league in steals, and 2nd in the league in blocked shots. As I said, they ain’t half bad.
So how are the Kings to overcome? Well for one, the Lakers are pretty horrible from long range; they’re 20th in the NBA in three point attempts and dead last in three point percentage at 29.7% from range. That tends to happen when the guy on the Lakers who takes the second most attempts from range a game is also the guy who shoots like he’s trying to listen to the ocean sounds in the fingerholes of a bowling ball. The Lakers get to the line the 6th most in the NBA, but are the second worst free throw shooting team in the league at just 70.9%. Lonzo Ball shoots 46.2% from the charity stripe. No need for a joke here, that stat is one. Finally, the Lakers are last in the league in turnovers at 17.3 a game, and are the second worst team in terms of fouls. So, if the Kings wanna win this game, they’re gonna need to get to the line, rebound well above their paltry averages and let Lonzo Ball crack the backboard with his shots all night. Oh boy.
Koooozin’ for a Bruisin’: The Lakers standout rookie, and the guy who is probably second in Rookie of the Year voting for me so far this year is Kyle Kuzma. I might have a little bias here. I watched Kuzma tear it up in Las Vegas this summer; the guy was the true MVP of the league and the final game and the fact that Lonzo Ball was even in consideration showed how much a popularity contest it really is. Kuzma hit more threes in summer league than he did his entire final college season at Utah, and did it at a 50% clip. That hot shooting has carried over into the NBA, where The Kooz is scoring 16.8 points, shooting 57% from two and 36% from three and is grabbing 6.6 rebounds to boot. If there is someone that is going to take it to Sacramento tonight, it won’t be a loud mouth’s son or an established shooting guard like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, its going to be Kyle Kuzma. He’s a fantastic SF/PF tweener and already the steal of the draft; that is until Harry Giles comes out of cryo-freeze in January to score 30 a game for the Kings.
Prediction: Lonzo Ball gets off to a hot start, hitting 2 of his first 11 shots, before De’Aaron Fox surprises him with a take to the hoop and a dunk, followed by seven more plays exactly like it. Lonzo makes some fancy passes in the third, the Laker stans around you give you the “See?” eyebrows, and the Kings beat the Lakers in the fourth.
Kings: 97, Lakers: 91