A common line of thought heading into the 2018-19 NBA season for this Sacramento Kings team was that no individual game, particularly a road game, should be considered a contest that this roster should win. The reasoning was simple— the Kings weren’t going to be good to the point where you can confidently say they should beat anyone. Could they beat teams? Sure. Would they beat teams? Yes. Should they be expected to beat teams? Probably not.
We’re 22 games into the regular season. The Kings are 11-11. I think it’s time to challenge that thought.
When: Tuesday, December 3rd; 6:00 pm PST
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena; Phoenix, AZ
Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM
Taking Care of Business
The Kings find themselves in Phoenix tonight taking on the worst team the Western Conference has to offer. Despite their 4-19 record, however, the Phoenix Suns have some legitimate firepower that a shaky Kings defense should be worried about, but the Suns are missing a lot of that firepower right now.
Devin Booker has already been ruled out for tonights game with a hamstring injury, while emerging wing T.J. Warren is currently listed as day-to-day with a right ankle injury, but Kellan Olson of ArizonaSports.com reports that he is not expected to play tonight.
So what we’ve got here is a reasonably rested and healthy 11-11 Kings team on the road in Phoenix to play a Suns team likely down their two best scorers. The Kings should win, right? We’re allowed to put that kind of pressure on them now? They’ve shown us enough? I think so.
Marvin Bagley vs. Deandre Ayton
Marvin Bagley is dealing with an injury of his own after missing Saturday nights 111-110 win over the Indiana Pacers with a back injury. Bagley also missed practice on Monday, where Dave Joerger officially listed him as a game-time decision for tonight. If Bagley does play, we’re looking at another #2 vs. #1 matchup with Deandre Ayton. That’s always fun.
This would be Bagley’s first NBA regular season game against Ayton. They’ve matched up in summer league and preseason already, but this could be night one in a decade long battle between two of the NBA’s brightest young bigs.
What the Suns Do Well
Thankfully for all of you, I’m not the standard game preview man for StR. That position belongs to Will Griffith, who, in my opinion, is the best game preview writer out there right now. In my haphazard game preview outline for today, I thought it would be good to have a section dedicated to what the Suns do well. If the Kings lose, this is how they’ll lose, etc.
Well, that was a bad call by me. The Suns do almost nothing at an average-to-above-average level, and these numbers look even worse when you consider the fact that they’ll be without Booker and Warren tonight, but here goes nothing.
The Suns shoot .457 from the field, which is right about league average. The Kings are allowing teams to shoot .472 from the field through 22 games, which is well below league average. The Suns can score with some level on NBA efficiency, and if the Kings are unwilling to defend, or take their opponent lightly, these guys can score. With that being said, in the their last two games without Booker they are averaging 90.5 PPG, but I’m trying here.
The only other statistical categories where the Suns are above or at league average is FT% and steals, so, the Kings need to put emphasis on keeping the Suns off the FT line and take care of the ball.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski as of this morning, the Suns are still looking for a solution at point guard.
The Suns search for a short-term point guard solution has included trade targets, unsigned free agents and G-League options, including a visit to Phoenix from Santa Cruz's Darius Morris early this week, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 4, 2018
Depending on who you listen to, the Suns have been looking for a point guard for years, but this new report comes at an interesting moment for the Sacramento Kings as Dave Joerger recently revealed his plan to use Bogdan Bogdanovic at point guard.
If Bogdanovic is picking up minutes at point guard, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for guys like Frank Mason and Yogi Ferrell to find playing time. The Kings, on the other hand, have a real need for size at the wing, and the Suns have enough players there where some of them have to be expendable.
The Suns aren’t trading Mikal Bridges (sorry Bryant) but Trevor Ariza, Josh Jackson, and T.J. Warren could all provide that size the Kings are looking for. Jackson and Warren would likely cost you more than just Mason or Ferrell and salary filler, but Ariza should come cheap if the Kings are interested, and those other wings could be had for the right price.