Kings

Gameday: Still looking for first home win, Kings face a dangerous Thunder team

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AP

Gameday: Still looking for first home win, Kings face a dangerous Thunder team

Home is where the heart is. Unfortunately, it’s not where the wins are. The Sacramento Kings have yet to come out on top on their home floor this season, dropping their first three games at Golden 1 Center. Waiting for them is a struggling, but dangerous Thunder team.

Sacramento is riding a seven-game losing streak, but they seemed unfazed by the skid. George Hill is back with the club after missing Saturday’s loss to the Detroit Pistons due to personal reasons. It’s a young group looking for an identity and hopefully a win.

The “Big Three” of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony average a whopping 61.7 points per game. OKC is posting 104.3 points per game (19th), but they’re holding their opponents to just 97.1 points a night, good enough for second best in the league.

BETTING LINE

Thunder by 10

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Russell Westbrook -- Westbrook was Fox’s favorite player growing up, which is probably not a good thing. The rookie was clear following practice on Monday that it’s just another opponent, but we’ll see. Fresh off an MVP season, Westbrook has taken a backseat to his All-Star cohorts. That won’t last long. Fox won’t get the start, but he’ll be asked to play big minutes against one of the most dominating players in the game.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 1-8, fifth place in Pacific

Thunder: 4-5, fifth place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.

Thunder: No injuries to report.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

OFFENSE VS. DEFENSE -- OKC is hanging their hats on defense early in the season, allowing just 97.1 points per game. The Kings are a team that rank 29th in scoring and last in 3-point attempts. It’s a recipe for disaster, unless Sacramento had an offensive epiphany during practice on Monday.

DIRTY GLASS -- The Kings are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, averaging just 39.6 boards per game. Effort is a major issue. So is personnel. If the bigs can’t get the job done, the guards and wings needs to work as a team and clean the glass.   

GROWN MEN -- Dave Joerger was quick to point out on Monday that the Thunder are a group of seasoned adults. Will the kids get out and run or will they allow OKC’s vets to dominate the action?

SERIES HISTORY

OKC won the season series 2-1 last season, including the final two. The Thunder hold a 142-85 all-time lead over the Kings and an 85-49 advantage in the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE

“I’m definitely looking forward to it, but I don’t want to go out there and just be like, ‘that’s Russell Westbrook.’ I’m going out playing another point guard. You know exactly what he can do. He’s extremely explosive. He does everything on the floor. You kind of take a different approach as far as adjustments and game planning, but after that, you just go out there and play basketball.” -De’Aaron Fox on playing Russell Westbrook.

Hill to the Cavs? The best and biggest deal for the Kings is...

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USATSI

Hill to the Cavs? The best and biggest deal for the Kings is...

Is the George Hill era in Sacramento coming to and end? According to Shams Charania, the Kings might have an interested party in the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Hill signed a massive three-year, $57 million deal with Sacramento over the summer, but has yet to live up to the contract. Through 37 games, Hill is posting 10.5 points and 2.7 assists per game for Sacramento. Those numbers are down from 16.9 points and 4.2 assists he averaged last season as a member of the Utah Jazz.

If a deal between the two teams is going to happen, it might be more complex than just shipping the 31-year-old to Cleveland on the next flight. Here is a look at a couple of possibilities without going into potential 3-way deals.

BEST DEAL FOR KINGS

Kings receive: Jae Crowder (3-years, $22 million), Iman Shumpert (2-year, $21.4 million - year-two a player option at $11 million)

Cavs receive: George Hill (3-year, $57 million), Malachi Richardson (2-year, $3 million with team option for third year)

Why Kings make deal: They land a very serviceable forward that instantly fills the team’s biggest need. At 27-years-old, Crowder is affordable and under contract for another two seasons, although he’s really struggled in his first season in Cleveland. Shumpert is coming off an injury and would likely opt out of his final year.

Why Cavs make deal: Hill instantly improves their backcourt. He can play the one of the two either as a starter or off the bench. Giving up tow wings might not be the best option, but Sacramento is going to want something of value back. Richardson is thrown into the deal to make salaries match.

BEST DEAL FOR CAVS

Kings receive: Channing Frye (1-year, $7.4 million) Iman Shumpert (2-year, $21.4 million - 2018-19 contract a player option at $11 million)

Cavs Receive: George Hill (3-year, $57 million), Malachi Richardson (2-year, $3 million with team option for third year)

Why Kings make deal: Kings give up an asset in Richardson, but they shed Hill’s $19 million owed for 2018-19 season. If Shumpert opts in, the Kings still save $8 million off the books for next season.

Why Cavs make deal: Basically, they land Hill for a couple of spare parts. Richardson is

BIG DEAL

Kings receive: Jae Crowder (3-years, $22 million), Channing Frye (1-year, $7.4 million) Iman Shumpert (2-year, $21.4 million - 2018-19 contract a player option at $11 million)

Cavs receive: George Hill (3-year, $57 million), Kosta Koufos (2-year, $17 million with player option for second year), Malachi Richardson (2-year, $3 million with team option for third year)

Why Kings make deal: They land Crowder and a get out of jail free card on Hill’s contract. Koufos can opt out of his deal at the end of the season and the Kings get nothing. Throwing in Richardson isn’t ideal, but the Kings are deep at the two and they have to match roster spots.

Why Cavs make deal: They get an upgrade in the backcourt in Hill. They are also rumored to be in the market for a big and Koufos is a much more affordable option than DeAndre Jordan.

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

Bogdan Bogdanovic breaks his shell early in 2018, 'he’s able to do everything'

He’s not really a rookie. After playing for years overseas, Bogdan Bogdanovic has proven very quickly that he is an NBA player. Midway through his first season in the league, the 25-year-old Serb is finding his stride. 

From the moment he stepped on the floor in Sacramento, Bogdanovic showed flashes of something special. You could see early on that he was trying to fit in and make nice with his teammates, but the honeymoon phase is over. Bogdanovic is no longer holding back.

For the third time in the new calendar year, Bogdanovic set a career-high in scoring on Wednesday evening. He dropped in 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including a perfect 6-of-6 from long range. 

“I’ve said it all year, he’s not really a rookie, he’s been playing pro ball for so many years,” De’Aaron Fox said of his backcourt mate. “He definitely doesn’t play like a rookie. He brings the intelligence, the savvy, the shooting - defensively, he gets after it. He’s able to do everything for us.” 

He’s pushed his season numbers up to 11.5 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game. Bogdanovic has also raised his shooting percentages drastically as the season has progressed, knocking down 48.8 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from behind the 3-point line. 

In eight games in January, Bogdanovic has taken his game to another level. He’s hit the opposition for 16.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 30.6 minutes a game. Dave Joerger has come to rely on the former Fenerbahce star, even giving him starts in the last two games since the youth movement was officially put into motion.

“I’m working every single day as hard as I can, I’m trying to be the best version of (myself).” Bogdanovic said following the team’s loss to Utah on Wednesday.

It’s a small sample size, but Bogdanovic’s shooting numbers in 2018 are off the charts. He’s hitting 54.8 percent from the floor, a stunning 58.3 percent on the 3-ball and 92.3 percent from the line.

With All-Star weekend on the horizon, Bogdanovic has likely earned his way into an invitation for the Rising Stars Challenge. Amongst rookies, he’s currently seventh in scoring, fourth in 3-point percentage, eighth in field goal percentage and sixth in steals. 

Sacramento’s 2017-18 season is about sifting through the young players and figuring out what they have. It appears the Kings have found a keeper in Bogdanovic.