Categories
Articles | Off Night

Three takeaways from Preseason Game 1

Three takeaways from the Sacramento Kings preseason debut against the Phoenix Suns.

Saramento Kings basketball is back! The 2021-22 NBA (pre)season debuted last night with a showing against the Phoenix Suns. The Suns were without Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Jae Crowder, and Dario Saric for their opener at the Golden 1 Center, while the Kings had no players listed on their injury report.

117-106 was the final tally in favor of Sacramento, but there is not much stock to be placed in that considering it was the preseason and the aforementioned missing Suns' players. On top of that, Monty Williams elected to not play either of Mikal Bridges or Deandre Ayton after halftime while the Kings ran their primary players through the third.

No matter, there is plenty to take aside from the scoreboard in preseason games. Here are my takeaways from game one against the Phoenix Suns.

# 1 - The lineups

I know, I know. We were specifically told by Luke Walton to not read too much into preseason lineups as preseason is a time to test things but I can't help myself.

The starting five featured De'Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley, and Richaun Holmes. I tend to think that Tyrese Haliburton is deserving of the starting spot over Buddy Hield, and it's nice to see that is at least being taken into consideration.

Staggering Bagley and Buddy, the two worst defenders on the roster by a notable margin, also seems like a solid strategy. That duo only played together for one stretch late in the second quarter.

There were a handful of three-guard lineups thrown out there in game one. Including the one that everyone was waiting for.

  • Fox, Mitchell, Hield, Barnes, Holmes
  • Haliburton, Mitchell, Hield, Harkless, Thompson
  • Haliburton, Mitchell, Davis, Harkless, Len
  • Fox, Hield, Davis, Barnes, Len
  • Fox, Haliburton, Mitchell, Barnes, Holmes
  • Fox, Mitchell, Hield, Barnes, Thompson
  • Mitchell, Hield, Davis, Bagley, Len

Harrison Barnes is the only talent on the roster who can fill the more traditional small-forward role, so expect a large majority of Sacramento basketball this season to be three-guard lineups such as those listed above.

One other small note is that Tristan Thompson was the first big off the bench over Alex Len. We will see if that remains the case moving forward.

#2 - The transition game

With three-guard lineups being more prevalent, an increased pace will naturally follow with additional faster and smaller players on the floor. The added playmaking from two to three players who could be labeled as point guards alongside one another also feels undermentioned at times.

Defense leading to offense was a welcome sight in Golden 1 Center and the offensive versatility of guard-heavy lineups led to success there. Tyrese Haliburton is a certified wizard with the ball in his hands, and I continue to find myself in awe at some of the passes he is able to make.

Sacramento managed to secure 29 of their 117 points in transition last night, and 25 of those were off Phoenix turnovers. Again, the Suns were without their primary initiators for the entire 48 minutes and it showed.

#3 - Davion Mitchell was as advertised

Davion Mitchell was the defensive pest that we all expected heading into the game. Bits and pieces of various aspects were on display throughout the night. His on-ball defensive pressure disrupted the opposing offensive flow and led to some turnovers. He impressed the crowd with off-ball rotations and relentless effort.

Some of the included clips are repeats from above but take note of how Mitchell is defending and creating transition opportunities. Saving the ball after disrupting the pick-and-roll in the last clip was easily my favorite Davion moment from night one. These are the type of impact defensive plays Sacramento has been missing on a consistent basis.

He is undoubtedly going to bother opposing guards in his rookie campaign. It would have been great to see him challenge Booker or Paul, but we can celebrate him affecting Cameron Payne and Elfrid Payton for now.

As for his offensive game, growing pains are expected. He looked most comfortable when initiating the offense through the pick-and-roll and shooting in rhythm off the bounce. Here he is isolating in a mismatch situation against Jalen Smith.

With his slightly underwhelming playmaking, he will need to become more comfortable playing off of other creators which should come with time.

Again, it's preseason game one and I'm certainly reading a bit too deep into things. Overall, it was a promising debut for the Kings rookie.

Other Notes

  • Buddy Hield showed potential growth as a playmaker making cross-court reads and slinging a pass or two off the bounce with his left hand
  • Tyrese Haliburton is a magician and deserves so much love from the Sacramento crowd he didn't fully experience last season
  • Harrison Barnes is already in midseason form - 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 23 minutes
  • Not much new from Bagley... there was one righty hook
  • They were icing empty side pick-and-rolls, but still showed a willingness to switch Holmes & Thompson onto guards
Subscribe
Notify of
45 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1951
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
October 5, 2021 3:01 pm

Three takeaways from Preseason Game 1

Actually, Mitchell was only credited with 2 steals! 😉

TerzoM
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Patreon Supporter
October 5, 2021 3:30 pm
Reply to  1951

comment image

Amonk81
Original Member
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Vote Up
Comments
October 5, 2021 4:59 pm
Reply to  1951

As I said in other thread- like Hali- the first time I watched Davion could tell he’s legit. He’s already good and he’s just starting.

I think they’ve nailed 2 picks.

murraytant
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
October 5, 2021 6:36 pm
Reply to  1951

He will get steals but his value will come more from pressuring the ball, forcing the the opponent to pick up the dribble and throw a lazy or off-balance pass.

AnybodyButBagley
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
October 5, 2021 9:29 pm
Reply to  murraytant

Something the Kings have not done in a decade.

A move in the correct direction.

GhostMalone
October 5, 2021 9:42 pm
Reply to  murraytant

Agree totally, he’s gonna make the other guards look good in the passing lane

rockbottom
Comments
Vote Up
Comments
Vote Up
October 5, 2021 3:20 pm

Terrible crowd even for a first preseason game !

AmateurNerd
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
October 5, 2021 4:07 pm
Reply to  rockbottom

I blame COVID. A lot of people aren’t going to risk going to a big, populated, enclosed area just for a preseason game. Can’t blame them, either. If the crowd on opening night is weak, that’s concerning, but for preseason? No worries, IMHO.

Carl
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
October 5, 2021 4:53 pm
Reply to  AmateurNerd

Giants attendance hasn’t been great either and that’s outside, with a team who have had a historically great season.

Also, there were absolutely fans in the arena not wearing masks, so pretty clearly that’s not being enforced.

Gregoryl
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
October 5, 2021 4:55 pm
Reply to  AmateurNerd

I know I’m not going until my youngest can get the vaccine.

dropgate
Original Member
Original Member
October 5, 2021 5:07 pm
Reply to  AmateurNerd

This. I was offered a ticket to last night’s game but declined. I’m vaxxed, but not really ready for a closed arena full of people.

HeuristicLineup
Patreon Supporter
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Original Member
October 6, 2021 7:19 am
Reply to  AmateurNerd

Kings fans mostly sold out the California Classic. I wouldn’t take much of Monday’s attendance as a sign of what’s to come. I agree, it’s likely covid related

BuffaloDiaspora
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
Original Member
Comments
Vote Up
October 5, 2021 4:58 pm
Reply to  rockbottom

I skipped it. It’s really early in the schedule, it’s preseason and it was on a Monday – it just didn’t feel like a basketball kind of day.

I expect a lot more people (myself included) to show up for the redacteds next Thursday.

HeuristicLineup
Patreon Supporter
Original Member
Patreon Supporter
Original Member
October 6, 2021 7:20 am

There was also a fatal accident on West Bound 80 that completely shut down traffic.

andy_sims
Vote Up
Comments
Original Member
Vote Up