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Kings vs. Thunder preview: Battle for play-in or for lotto odds?

Both team’s have star guards sidelined with injuries.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder will get together in a game Saturday that doesn’t have the most on-court intrigue. With both teams toiling in the bottom five of the standings, I don’t want to oversell the importance of this game, because frankly there isn’t a ton.

On the court, both teams are missing their star young guards on max contracts due to ankle injuries. Off the court, the game is interesting because it’s two teams in the bottom five of the western conference, that could both really use one of the franchise-changing guys at the top of this year’s draft class.

As it stands currently, the Kings are a half-game behind or ahead (depending on how you look at it) of the Thunder who enter Saturday’s contest having won three games in a row.

The Thunder are the most exciting type of bad team. Full of young guys in their early to mid-20s that are fighting to establish themselves in the league. One of those young guys, No. 6 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Josh Giddey has been extremely impressive as of late, scoring in double digits in each of the team’s last four games.

Giddey has a unique combination of height at 6 foot 8 and an innate passing feel that makes for an exciting watch. The percentages aren’t quite there for him, shooting the ball, but man some of his flashes and best passes are extremely impressive.

It will be interesting to see Sacramento’s rookie, Davion Mitchell can continue his best stretch of the season. Mitchell scored a career-high 26 points in the Kings’ 126-114 loss to the Warriors on Thursday. Now that Mitchell’s jumper is finally starting to fall more consistently, it is a good look at why Sacramento valued him so highly in the draft.

Saturday might not be the prettiest or most skillful NBA game you’ve seen, but at least there will be some exciting young players getting after it.

How to Watch/Listen: NBC Sports California, Sports 1140 KHTK

Opposing Perspective: Welcome to Loud City

SAC injuries/absences: De’Aaron Fox - Questionable (Ankle), Marvin Bagley III - Questionable (Ankle), Terence Davis - Out (Wrist)

OKC injuries/absences: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - Out (Ankle), Aaron Wiggins - Out (Ankle), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl - Out (Foot), Isaiah Roby - Out (Ankle), Luguentz Dort - Out (Face), Vít Krejčí (Ankle)