The In-Season Tournament is here! The Kings are hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight in a game that will count for both regular season standings and the new In-Season Tournament. There will be a special court to mark the occasion and the Kings will be wearing their retro-modern City jerseys as well. De’Aaron Fox will still be out of action so it will be a tough matchup against a very talented Thunder squad that is 5-3 to start the season.
Let’s talk Kings basketball!
When: Friday, November 10th, 7:00 PM PT
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140
In-Season Tournament Group C Standings
1. Golden State Warriors 1-0
T-2. Sacramento Kings 0-0
T-2. San Antonio Spurs 0-0
T-2. Minnesota Timberwolves 0-0
5. Oklahoma City Thunder 0-1
Three in the Key
The Thunder are a team on the rise, led by 25 year old Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA nearly led the NBA in scoring last season with 31.4 points a game and made the All-NBA 1st Team despite the Thunder failing to make the playoffs. He’s one of the most prolific drivers in the NBA, with more than half of his field goal attempts coming within 10 feet of the basket. For a Kings team that has had issues preventing teams from getting into the paint, that’s going to be a problem.
SGA is far from the only talented player the Thunder have. Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams are both jumbo sized Point Guards, Luguentz Dort is a premier 3-and-D wing, and Chet Holmgren would probably be the talk of the NBA as a rookie if it weren’t for Victor Wembanyama. Holmgren had to miss his rookie season due to injury last year but he’s quickly making up for lost time, averaging 16.8 points on absolutely ridiculous 57.5/55.6/90 shooting splits to go with 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.5 blocks and 1.0 steals a game. This starting unit for the Thunder is about as talented as it gets and SGA is the oldest member at just 25 years old. They’re just getting started.
Mike Brown tried an entirely different rotation in Wednesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers after Sacramento dropped two straight awful games against the Houston Rockets. Davion Mitchell was removed from the starting lineup, but not for Malik Monk as some thought. Instead, Keon Ellis got the call and ended up playing 21 minutes. Sasha Vezenkov, Colby Jones and JaVale McGee were all benched and in their place the Kings tried out Kessler Edwards and Alex Len. It was a bit of a mixed bag, as the Kings barely held on to beat an undermanned Blazers squad in Overtime, so clearly there are still things to be worked out. We’ll see what Coach Brown tries tonight against the Thunder. He truly seems insistent on not starting Malik Monk but I continue to feel that’s the best move we could make in Fox’s absence. Tonight though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kessler Edwards get extended minutes to potentially focus on SGA.
Control the Glass
If the Thunder have one true weakness, they’re not a good rebounding team at all. They rank 29th in Defensive Rebounding Rate and 28th in Offensive Rebounding Rate. The Kings are 2nd in Defensive Rebounding and 14th in Offensive Rebounding, so dominating the glass is a must against this Thunder team.
Someone finally takes the lid off the baskets at Golden 1 Center and the Kings start making all these wide open threes they’ve been getting. Sacramento’s first tournament game is a shootout for the ages.
Kings 141, Thunder 135