The Kings will continue their improbable run at being an average NBA team tonight as the fly to Atlanta to take on the Hawks and standout rookie point guard, Trae Young. The Hawks come into the contest the winner of just two games, and yet, something stirs from the edge of my memory: a Hawks team, just as bad as the Kings. What-what happened? It was so long ago, I can barely suss it out now. Is it cold in here all of a sudden?
Let’s talk Kings basketball.
When: Thursday, November 1st; 4:30 pm PST
Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
For Your Consideration
Fox vs The Hawks: Hey, so you know how the Kings are touted as this ultrafast, lightning quick team that plays at such an intense pace that it wears out the opponents by the fourth quarter? It’s said a lot now by opposing coaches, by national sports writers that are finally cluing in to what the Kings are doing this year; the Kings are ultrafast. But, usually Grant Napear or a Carmichael Dave will scoot into the conversation that we’re second in the league in pace, and your mind pictures a Warriors, or maybe someone like the Bucks in the East are playing faster this year. Pace is what has put us in the position to win, so it stands to reason that the fastest pace in the league would be someone just as successful as Sacramento has been in the early goings of the season.
It’s the Hawks.
The Hawks are the only team in the league that plays faster than the Kings, that are welcome and open to the challenge of having the Kings try to run them off the floor. Has it gotten them very many wins early on? No. At 2-5 the wins have come few and far between, but it’s also exactly what I thought the Kings would have at this point as well. The Hawks have scored an average of 108.4 points per game (23rd in the league) this season, and have given up just a tenth of a point under 117 points per game (also 23rd in the league), and have been led beautifully by 3rd overall 5th overall pick, Trae Young. Young comes into Thursday’s contest averaging 19.1 points, 6.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 34% from deep and 50% from inside the arc (42.9% overall) and has been pretty much a brilliant young point guard right out of the gate. Also featured for the Hawks: Taurean Waller-Prince. At 16.7 points, 5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals a game, Waller-Prince has had himself a nice breakout season and would absolutely be that guy to beat the Kings in previous years.
Speaking of beating the Kings: it was a year ago this month now that the Kings came into Atlanta looking to play a competitive game against their fellow cellar dwellers and wound up getting smacked by 46 points in a 126-80 shitshow. One year ago. Remember where you were? Imagine if I’d have told you right after that game that those two teams would be leading the NBA in pace the next year and that one of them would start off as the surprise of the NBA the following year. Would you have ever fathomed it would have been the Kings?
The Kings are going to have to come out and execute against these sort of teams: the ones that on paper are worse than they are. In previous years, this would be the game you’d guarantee your coworkers around the water cooler that the KANGZ would lose, because the KANGZ always lose these. It’s the third game in four nights, the Kings are playing a team that is struggling to win games and you’ve got an ounce of confidence in how they’re playing: this is the perfect chance to lose by fifty points. But! This team isn’t like previous years and you know it. De’Aaron Fox is nursing a lower back injury, and if he feels he can be effective then by all means play him and test out the legs of their rookie point guard all night. Let the fans see how well Trae Young can shoot with sandbags for legs in the fourth quarter and De’Aaron Fox hounding the ball. The best centers on the Hawks are Alex Len and Dwayne Dedmon, so I’d like to see Marvin out there for some extended minutes tonight. He’s done well playing up to some of the best big guys in the NBA, so what does he have to offer when the competition is a bit lighter at his position?
Just as a reality check for you: if the Kings win tonight, they’ll be 6-3. While I assume they’ll be well under .500 by the time Christmas rolls around, how absolutely nutso has this start been? I literally have scrapped a large section of my preview just because I don’t want to jinx the Kings (RIP Sacramento Theater Review... for now). It’s nice to see a direction that might just work, even just for a little while, isn’t it?
Within 24 hours of the Kings win tonight, at least one player will post something about Vince Carter and what he meant to the Kings last year. A great big frown will come across my face because VINCE CARTER SHOULD STILL BE A KING. Also, Willie is going to score over 30 tonight.
After the game, somewhere deep inside the bowels of Atlanta’s arena the sounds of a knee brace being velcro’d off are heard. “Bogi,” a low voice speaks into the dark, “Arise”.
Kings 126, Hawks 111