If you could rank preseason games by importance, the Kings played their most important preseason game of 2019 Monday night in Utah. After back-to-back difficult-to-analyze games against the Indiana Pacers in India, and a blowout home win over the Phoenix Suns, the playoff-hopeful Kings finally had a normal road test against a very good Utah Jazz team, and based on the final score, box score, and grainy, muted feed I was subject to last night, the Kings aced the test with an impressive 128-115 preseason win.
For some context, this looks better than the feed I watched last night, so if this isn’t the best recap you’ve ever read, my apologies. Did I mention there was so no sound?
Highlight so good it's presented in 144p! pic.twitter.com/saaaWTo49P— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) October 15, 2019
Side note: It bums me out that we can’t get full broadcasts of Sacramento Kings preseason basketball. It wouldn’t bother me as much if the bigger market teams didn’t treat these games (and the fans that want to watch them) with far more respect. Every Lakers preseason game is on TV. Every Warriors preseason game is on TV. Every Celtics preseason game is on TV. It makes the Kings and other smaller markets that don’t broadcast their preseason games look lesser than in comparison.
Anyway, here’s some bulleted notes:
- When the game mattered, when the Kings were playing their best players and the Jazz were playing their best players, the Kings really outworked and outplayed them. The Kings went 1-3 against the Jazz last season, and if they want to make a real playoff push this year, this is exactly the kind of team they need to learn how to beat.
- Rudy Gobert has had some great games against the Kings in the past, and he was good again tonight, but the Kings looked much more equipped to deal with his size and physicality in the paint. Dewayne Dedmon, Marvin Bagley, and Richaun Holmes, specifically, lured Gobert into a flagrant-1 and a technical foul just by showing some fight. This game got chippy in spurts, and that’s something the Kings desperately needed to get better at this offseason —toughness, resistance, physicality, etc. It was great to see. I would very much like a playoff series between these two teams.
- Both Richaun Holmes and Dewayne Dedmon fouled out. Ideally, that doesn’t happen, but I thought it was interesting that we saw two-way contract Wenyen Gabriel come in off the bench before guaranteed-contract Caleb Swanigan. I continue to like Wenyen Gabriel’s overall activity. He does stuff out there. It isn’t always pretty.
- Speaking of Richaun Holmes, he is making a serious case that he should be the Kings’ starting center. He was very good vs. the Jazz, and he’s been very good all preseason. I don’t think he’ll take Dewayne Dedmon’s spot yet, if he does at all, because Dedmon has been pretty solid himself and the spacing he provides could be essential for this offense, but Holmes is certainly making that position battle more interesting that I thought it would be.
- One argument for keeping Holmes with the bench unit is the chemistry he’s building with Bogdan Bogdanovic in the pick and roll. The Jazz are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and they, like everyone else this preseason, struggled to defend it. The Bogi-Holmes chemistry is real, and it’s spectacular.
- Buddy Hield doesn’t need anymore preseason games. He’s picking up right where he left off last season. His creation tonight was a surprising plus.
- De’Aaron Fox left the game with a lower back injury of some kind and didn’t return. I couldn’t tell exactly what happened to him. As of this writing, there hasn’t been an update on his status.