After a grind’em down effort against a physical Raptors team in Toronto lead to their second win of a six game road trip, the Kings have pulled up to Detroit for their last game away from the comforts of home for awhile. The Pistons will be missing the key cog to their squad, Cade Cunningham, who opted for shin surgery earlier this week, and now ruled out for the rest of this season. Fear not, friends, there’s still plenty of talent to sneak up on any Kings team not laser focused on the game at hand. Will Jaden Ivey extract a measure of revenge for the Kings not selecting him at #4? Will Marvin Bagley extract a measure of revenge for the Kings selecting him at #2? Will the Kings swap for Saddiq Bey before or after tonight’s contest?
Let’s talk Kings basketball!
When: Friday, December 16th, 4:00 PM PT
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140
For Your Consideration
Marvin’s Room: Naw, I’m just kidding, I’m not talking about Marvin Bagley today. THE SACRAMENTO KINGS ARE 48 MINUTES OF GOOD BASKETBALL FROM GOING 3-3 ON A MONSTER OF A ROAD TRIP. Yeah, that doesn’t seem like much to all of you already accustomed to the winning lifestyle that the Beam Team has afforded you this season, but goodness gracious does that still feel foreign to me. You throw just about any other Kings squad in the last ten or so years up against three of the best defenses in the league, with a three games in four nights mixed in to boot, you can pretty much chisel in stone that they’re going 1-5 or 0-6 and Will’s writing Kings opposing city related movie reviews by night four. To expand out, if you’d have told me the Kings would be three games above .500 after 27 games and a consensus Top-10 hardest schedule… well, I’m not sure what I’d say or do. I certainly wouldn’t have bet a Mike Bibby style self-head shave and a Lady Bird watch party contingent on the Kings making the playoffs, that’s for damn sure.
Okay, look at me pulling a winning team fan trope here and overlooking the team the Kings are facing tonight in order to wax poetic about the brilliance of their own team. The Detroit Pistons aren’t a very good basketball team. They’re rocking the second worst record in the NBA, just lost their best player for the season and are led in scoring by a piece of 33-year old trade bait. This is NOT a hit piece – the Pistons are bad and mostly by design and we all know how much I love a tidy little tank, so don’t be starting any BabyGiraffe style beef with the city because I pointed out the obvious.
For as bad record wise as the Pistons have been, they’re also loaded with some really nice talent. Jaden Ivey, unfortunately for all the haters out there, will be a very nice NBA player someday. I’m sure he wants to absolutely crush the Kings for pride reasons and he’s got the speed and strength to do so. At 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4 assists a game and now no Cunningham, he’ll be expected to take his play up yet another notch and what better chance at a second impression than now? Both big men in Isaiah “Beef Stew” Steward and Jalen “Will Was Right About Him” Duren have the strength and athleticism to frustrate and corral Domantas Sabonis. Stewart especially has had himself a nice season – 12 points, 8.7 rebounds and check this, 37.5% from deep on 4.2 attempts per game. Killian Hayes has been resurgent in 17 starts this season and by that I mean he looks like an NBA player. While his averages are chilling at 8.7 points and 5.2 assists on 34.4% from deep and 37.8% from the field, he’s had two games in December alone where he’s scored 22 and 25 point, the latter one being Wednesday night’s game against the Hornets where he hit five threes and dropped eight assists to boot. Saddiq Bey, though slumping and seemingly in Dwane Casey’s doghouse and on Troy Weaver’s trade block, is still a threat to go off at any given time. He’s shooting 29.8% from deep and only 40% total from the field to go along with his 14.4 points per game, but the flashes he showed in his rookie year are enough for me to think he needs a change of venue more than anything.
Overall the Pistons are rough. They give up the second most points to opponents in the NBA, have the second worst defensive rating, they foul more than any squad in the association, are in the bottom six in steals and and blocks and just genuinely have no identity there. On offense it isn’t much better. They’re 23rd in scoring while running at a dead average pace. They’re the third worst shooting team from the field, fourth worst in assists and hey wait, I found a positive. They shoot the most free throws in the NBA… at the 22nd best clip.
To hell with tired legs, bumps and bruises, shooting slumps and whatever else negative things we can conjure up – a good team will beat this team regardless of most circumstances. If the Kings are to be trusted with the title of “playoff contender”, they need to take care of business against teams like the Pistons. Contain Bogdanovic and capitalize on the young talents of the Pistons doing what young talents do – foul, turn the ball over, miss rotations, on and on. Detroit will be good someday, but it ain’t today. A loss here would be an incredible disappointment.
Bojan and Keegan Murray have an offensive efficiency-off, one in which the defense of Harrison Barnes plays the deciding factor in Murray’s victory. De’Aaron Fox looks like the Star Fox of earlier this season and twists the Pistons defense in knots. The game takes 4 hours to complete with Domas going to the line 24 times. Jalen Duren does one thing that makes your jaw hit the floor.
Kings: 132, Pistons:111