Kings

Gameday: After career night vs Warriors, can Kings slow down Lou Williams?

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USATSI

Gameday: After career night vs Warriors, can Kings slow down Lou Williams?

SACRAMENTO -- It’s all LA, all week long. After falling to the Lakers on Tuesday at Staples Center, the Kings return home to face the other team from Los Angeles on Thursday evening. Sacramento will host the first of two straight against the injury riddled Clippers with a 7 p.m. tip from Golden 1 Center.

The Kings recovered from a big deficit early against the Lakers, but struggled to find the bottom of the net. Sacramento forced the Lakers into 26 turnovers, but shot just 34.5 percent from the field in the loss.

Fresh off a stunning win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, the Clippers are rolling. Despite a long list of injuries, Los Angeles has won two straight and eight of their last 11 to jump up in the standings. 

BETTING LINE 

Kings by 1.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Everyone vs. Lou WIlliams -- Williams is on fire. The 13-year NBA veteran is fresh off a 50-point game against the Warriors and he’s having a breakout season at age 31. Over his last 10 games, Williams is posting 31.8 points per game. If he gets hot, it’s lights out for Sacramento.

WHERE THEY STAND 

Kings: 13-27, fourth place in Pacific

Clippers: 19-21, second place in Pacific

INJURY REPORT 

Kings: PG Frank Mason III (plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out. Malachi Richardson and Georgios Papagiannis were allocated to the Reno Bighorns. 

Clippers: PG Milos Teodosic (plantar fasciitis) questionable, SG Austin Rivers (Achilles) out, PF Blake Griffin (concussion) out, PG Patrick Beverley (knee) out, SF Danilo Gallinari (hip) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Stopping the Supporting Cast -- The last time these two teams played, it was no-namers Jahmil Wilson and Montrezl Harrell who stole the show. Wilson is out of the NBA less than a month later. Harrell is a hustle player off the bench. Williams is going to get his, but the Kings can’t let role players go crazy. 

More Fox -- De’Aaron Fox is finding a rhythm since returning from injury. He’s posted 15.3 points and six assists over his last four games and he’s starting to find his range from behind the arc. The Kings’ prized rookie has played aggressive on both sides of the ball and is beginning to show what kind of player he can be at the NBA level.

More Bogi -- Fox isn’t the only Kings rookie figuring out the transition to the NBA game. Bogdan Bogdanovic has taken on a much bigger role in George Hill’s absence. He’s scored in double figures in 11 of his last 15 games and he’s posted five assists or more five times over the last seven games. He’s a smart player that has shown a knack for making his teammates better.

SERIES HISTORY 

The Clippers lead the season series 2-0 after taking down the Kings at Golden 1 Center on Dec. 26. The Clippers have won three straight over Sacramento and 10 in a row in the Capital City. The Kings hold a 69-64 lead during the Sacramento-era and a 113-87 advantage all-time.

Gameday: De'Aaron Fox vs Donovan Mitchell in rookie showdown

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AP

Gameday: De'Aaron Fox vs Donovan Mitchell in rookie showdown

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings return to Golden 1 Center for a one game stop before heading out for a season-long six game road trip. They’ll face a struggling Utah Jazz team that is 4-15 over their last 19 games.

Sacramento has gone young, choosing rotate veteran players for the final 40 games of the season. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter received the dreaded DNP-CD on Monday in OKC. Who will sit Wednesday at G1C?

Utah had the making of a contending team before Gordon Hayward and George Hill departed via free agency. They are rebuilding around rookie Donovan Mitchell, who has been nothing short of phenomenal in his first 41 games as a pro.

BETTING LINE

Jazz by 4

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Donovan Mitchell -- Fox is showing that he’s ready to take a major step for Sacramento. In seven games since returning from injury, the Kentucky product is posting 14 points and 6.4 assists and is now averaging in double-figures on the season. Mitchell has the run of the house in Utah and he’s taken full advantage. The 13th overall selection from the 2017 NBA Draft is in a dogfight for rookie of the year honors, scoring a huge 18.6 points in 31.4 minutes per game for Utah.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 13-30, fifth place in Pacific

Jazz: 17-26, fifth place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (left shoulder strain) out, PG Frank Mason III (heel) out, F Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.

Jazz: C Rudy Gobert (knee) out, SF Thabo Sefolosha (knee) out, Dante Exum (shoulder) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Take Advantage of the Opportunity -- Sacramento’s youth movement is in full swing, but it comes with a bit of pressure. The 25 and under crowd has a 40 game audition to show that they are NBA regulars. Malachi Richardson and Justin Jackson have struggled to get consistent minutes, but when they get a chance, they need to stay aggressive and follow the game plan.

Show up at Home -- The Kings are about to embark on a six game road trip across the country beginning Friday in Memphis. It’s a one game homestand, but still an opportunity to build some momentum heading into a long stretch away.  

Snap the Streak -- Sacramento’s  lost five straight and 10 of their last 12 games. Utah is scuffling as well. If the Kings bring energy early, they might be able to ride the wave of the Golden 1 Center crowd and get back in the left hand column.

SERIES HISTORY

The Jazz took the season series 3-1 over the Kings last season. Utah leads the all-time series 102-82 and holds a 79-49 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE

"Going forward, what I'm going to do is, we're going to play a rotation where two of our five veterans are going to be out every night. It might be some times there'll be three. It's an opportunity for some other guys to get some minutes as we go throughout the course of the season.” -Dave Joerger on the Kings’ youth movement

After tough start to season, Kings make organizational shift towards youth

After tough start to season, Kings make organizational shift towards youth

The time has come. After losing five straight and 10 of their last 12 games, the Sacramento Kings sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings at 13-30. With playoffs well out of reach, the team is making an organizational decision to go young.

You could say that the Kings made this decision last February when they dealt DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans. You could also point to draft day 2017 when the team traded down and turned the 10th overall selection into picks 15 and 20, giving the team three first round selections, an early second rounder and rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic coming from overseas.

Sacramento walked into the 2017-18 campaign with ten players on rookie scale deals, including nine first round selections with two years of NBA experience or less.

After a rocky first half, the team is going to a complete youth movement. The plan is for the veteran core of George Hill, Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph to rotate in and out of the lineup over the final 40 games of the season. 

Both management and the coaching staff is on the same page with the decision, NBC Sports California has confirmed. Two or three players will sit each night as they team explores what they have in youngsters.

"Going forward, what I'm going to do is, we're going to play a rotation where two of our five veterans are going to be out every night. It might be some times there'll be three. It's an opportunity for some other guys to get some minutes as we go throughout the course of the season. I've got it laid out...I've got about five or six games laid out, and every week I'll go out again because you want to communicate with those guys when they're not going to play. Other guys, they've got to be ready. If you're in the first three years of your contract, you can expect to play a little, or a lot, or none, but you should be ready to play," Joerger told the media after the Kings' loss to the Thunder on Monday night.

Developing young players was the top priority coming into the season. With the team struggling, the franchise's decision to speed up the transition from veterans to inexperienced players comes as no surprise.

Prized first round selection De’Aaron Fox has already 22 of 35 appearances for the Kings and is settling into the starting point guard position. Since returning from injury, the 20-year-old out of Kentucky is posting 14.3 points and 6.7 assists over 32.5 minutes per game.

Despite early season struggles with consistency, the fifth overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft is improving. With the ideological shift in direction by the franchise, it is now Fox’s show, but he’s not the only one expected to produce.

Willie Cauley-Stein has taken a huge leap forward in his third season with the team as well. After struggles in his first two years in the league, Cauley-Stein is averaging career-highs in points (12.0), rebounds (6.5), assists (2.2), steals (.9), blocks (.8) and minutes played (26.2).

With his confidence at an all-time high, Cauley-Stein is going to be asked to do even more with a reduction of minutes by Zach Randolph. The lanky 7-footer will have an opportunity to prove he is a go-to weapon in the final 40 games of the season.

The Kings have a pair of wings that appear ready to excel in Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield.

Bogdanovic has made tremendous strides through his first few months in the league and he’s clearly ready for a bigger role. The presence of Hill and Temple has forced Bogdanovic to play out of position at the small forward position.

The 25-year-old Serbian has already seen a surge in minutes and production during the month of January. Bogdanovic has scored in double-figures all six games this month and he’s averaging 15.3 points on 55 percent shooting from field and 50 percent from long range. He has a maturity to his game after spending years playing professionally in Europe and Joerger has relied heavily on him throughout the early season.

Hield has improved in year two, especially on the defensive end. He came out of Oklahoma as a pure scorer and hasn’t disappointed. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is shooting over 44 percent from 3-point range this season and showing a good feel for the game as a volume scorer off the bench.

The front office and coaching staff have an outline of what Fox, Cauley-Stein, Bogdanovic and Hield project as players, but there are plenty of other youngsters on the roster that the club needs more time to assess.

Skal Labissiere has fought his way out of a rough patch and is showing signs of improvement. His rebounding numbers have steadily jumped up and he’s figuring out how to defend stretch fours on the perimeter.

Before his injury, Frank Mason III was making strides as the team’s backup point guard. The second round pick is solid, but struggled with his shot before going down with a plantar fascia injury. He’ll be back in early February and should slide right back into the rotation.

Justin Jackson and Malachi Richardson have taken turns bouncing between the Kings and  the Reno Bighorns. Jackson has a maturity about him on the floor, but he’s been inconsistent with his shot and needs to get stronger.

After earning his way into the rotation last season, Richardson has struggled when given the opportunity this year. He’s worked tirelessly on his body and he’s a great practice 3-point shooter. He’s learning to play the 2, 3 and even some stretch four this season, which shows versatility, but he passes up too many open looks.

Lastly, the Kings have a complete unknown in 7-foot-2 center Georgios Papagiannis. Like Richardson, the giant out of Greece has worked hard to reinvent his body. He’s clearly quicker and more agile than he was in his rookie season, but at 20-years-old, he’s still considered a project.

It might be 10-15 games earlier than expected, but at some point this season, the Kings were going to throw their young players to the wolves and see how they fair. Sitting out games is a tough pill to swallow for veterans, but with just 13 wins through the first three months of the season, the writing has been on the wall for a while.