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Kings vs. Suns Preview: A Rare Opportunity

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The Kings aren’t going to be favored in many games this season. This will be one of them, and they have to take advantage.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings and Suns remain inextricably linked thanks to the draft day trade of 2015 that sent Marquese Chriss to Phoenix and Bogdan Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis to Sacramento.

It’s still too early to judge the outcome of the trade for either team, but that trade marked the first sign of Sacramento committing to a full rebuild and acquiring assets for once rather than squandering them.

Now the Suns, while supposedly further along in their rebuild, are essentially neck and neck with the Kings. Their best player, Devin Booker, won’t be playing and the Kings should be favorites for one of the few times this year. But we’ve seen the Kings beat better teams than themselves and lose to worse teams multiple times throughout the years, so never take any game for granted.

When: Tuesday, December 12th; 7:00 pm PST

Where: Golden1 Center

TV: NBCSCA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

The Suns without Devin Booker are a completely different team. Booker has emerged as one of the best young guards in the league and Phoenix’s franchise centerpiece. He’s hit big shot after big shot, and just last year managed to score 70 points in a game.

Even with Booker, the Suns aren’t a good team. Without him, they haven’t won a game. They still however possess some talented players. T.J. Warren is as pure a scorer as you can get in the NBA in that all he does is score the ball (he is second on the team in usage rate but has an assist rate of just 6.9%). Warren’s more of a slasher than a shooter though, only hitting about 20% of his threes. The Suns also now have Greg Monroe, another talented big that can pass and rebound.

Josh Jackson, a coveted rookie from this class, has been struggling so far in his young career, mainly with his shot. Marquese Chriss is still struggling with foul trouble in his second season, averaging almost 5.2 fouls per 36 minutes. He hasn’t looked the part of a future star yet even though he has flashed some serious athleticism.

The Kings could be getting Willie Cauley-Stein back tonight but as of yet it’s unclear. Tyson Chandler will likely get early action against Zach Randolph, and while Chandler isn’t nearly the player he used to be, he could give Randolph some fits with his size and length. Randolph has been Sacramento’s best player this season, and recently he’s really coming into his own, averaging 23.8 points on 60.9% from the field to go with 10.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists over the last five games.

Buddy Hield has also been playing exceedingly well off the bench as of late, and is now at an absurd 47.5% from three for the season, which is made even more crazy by the fact that he was only shooting about 30% for the first 10 games. There isn’t a word to describe how ridiculous his 58.6% from three on 70 attempts off the bench is, nor for how the Kings don’t play him more and run more plays for him.

This is a game the Kings should win. They’re at home, they had a lackluster showing against the Raptors on Sunday, and the opposing team is without their best player. The Kings can’t afford to not take the Suns seriously however. Come out strong early, and keep the pressure up all game. The NBA schedule isn’t going to provide many favors this season, and this is a rare opportunity to make a statement at home. Take it.

Prediction:

Kings play a flawless 48 minutes of basketball and take care of business at home and everyone lives happily ever after.

Kings 111, Suns 94