Five most intriguing games on Kings' 2018-19 schedule
5) Oct. 17 vs. Jazz
Kings coach Dave Joerger is notoriously secretive about his starting lineups, and opening night should be no different. Who starts at small forward? Is No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III in the opening night lineup? What happens with veterans Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos and Iman Shumpert?
Game 1 will answer plenty of questions, and by the way, the Utah Jazz are in town as well. Who draws the opening night assignment of guarding last season’s breakout star, Donovan Mitchell? Can the Kings keep Rudy Gobert off the glass? Will Grayson Allen trip a Kings player in his NBA debut?
Kings fans will show up in force to kick off another season of hoops in the Capital City. The training wheels are off, and the young guys are supposed to push the tempo. The Kings are 23-10 in home openers during the Sacramento era, but the Jazz look like a top-tier team coming into the season.
4) Nov. 10 vs. Lakers
Kings versus Lakers still brings in a huge crowd in Sacramento. The Lakers have reloaded this season, adding superstar LeBron James to the mix, as well as an assortment of misfit toys. Rajon Rondo? Check. JaVale McGee? Check. Lance Stephenson? Check. When Michael Beasley doesn't even make the list, you know it's a strange offseason.
Where is Ron Artest/Metta World Peace/The Pandas Friend when you need him?
Like every other team in the league, the Kings will struggle to slow down James, but with the current cast of characters in L.A., it’s must-see TV.
3) Dec. 4 at Suns
Marvin Bagley III was vocal throughout the draft process that he believes he's a better prospect than top overall pick Deandre Ayton. These two played together for a short stint in high school and are likely to face off for the next decade as Western Conference foes.
Phoenix is a young team on the rise. The Suns have plenty of talent, including shooting guard Devin Booker, but they also have a few holes in their roster. This should be a fun battle with plenty of scoring and very little defense.
2) Jan. 5 vs. Warriors
There’s no telling when All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins will return from injury. The Kings face the Warriors at home in early December, but this probably is a more realistic return date for the former Kings big man.
Cousins took a huge gamble when he signed a one-year, $5.3 million contract to join the reigning back-to-back champs. If Cousins returns to his previous form following Achilles surgery, the Warriors should be completely unstoppable. If he struggles to fit in, this could be one of the worst moves in NBA history.
Either way, Cousins is beloved in Sacramento by a large portion of the fanbase. He’s still active in the community and is likely to receive a huge ovation, if he can take the court.
1) March 21 vs. Mavericks
When the lottery gods shined brightly on the Kings, it was a foregone conclusion that Sacramento would scoop up Serbian wing Luka Doncic with the second overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. That didn’t happen. Vlade Divac and his front-office staff went with Bagley, much to the chagrin of plenty of Kings fans.
While these two teams face off Dec. 16 in Dallas, this is the first time Doncic will play in front of the Golden 1 Center crowd. This gives Bagley a few months to show he’s the better prospect. If Doncic rolls in and lights up the Kings, the headlines won’t be kind coming out of Sactown.