Kings

Gameday: Kings can cash in or go for broke in last game before All-Star break

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USATSI

Gameday: Kings can cash in or go for broke in last game before All-Star break

Cash it in or go for broke. With two games remaining before the All-Star break, the Sacramento Kings travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks at AmericanAirlines Arena. Will they come out swinging or look like a team already one foot out the door on vacation?

The Kings have lost two straight and four of their last five, but they’re beat up and fresh off a roster shakeup. De’Aaron Fox led Sacramento last time out, scoring 23 points against the T-Wolves. He was one of six Kings to score in double-figures, but the Kings couldn’t close out Minny late.

Dallas is 3-11 over their last 14 games, but one of those wins came over the Kings at Golden 1 Center. They are an interesting mix of young and old. Dirk Nowitzki is still roaming the perimeter and Harrison Barnes has developed into a quality scoring option in his second season in Dallas.

BETTING LINE

Mavs by 6.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Justin Jackson vs. Doug McDermott -- Jackson has posted double-digit scoring in four of his last seven games and shot 50 percent from the field or better in all but one of those opportunities.  He’s quietly improved his per game numbers across the board, including rebounding, assists and points. Dougie McBuckets is getting another new lease on life after joining the Mavs at the deadline. He can shoot the rock, but so far in his career, that’s about it.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 17-38

Mavs: 18-39

INJURY REPORT

Kings: SG/SF Iman Shumpert (plantar fasciitis) out, SF Bruno Caboclo (personal) status unknown at this time, PF Skal Labissiere (shoulder strain) out, PG Frank Mason (plantar fascia tear right heel) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Mavs: G Seth Curry (leg) out for the season, C Nerlens Noel (thumb) out, PF Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Rookie Point Guard Battle - De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith are going to battle for the next decade in the Western Conference. Fox won the last matchup between these two, but Smith’s team came away with the win. Fox is the faster of the two, but Smith touts a 48-inch vertical.  

Stay Focused - The Kings are 9-21 away from Golden 1 Center this season, compared to 8-17 at home. They’ve had shocking wins over the Warriors, Pelicans and Heat on the road this season, showing that they can rise to the occasion. With the All-Star break just two days away, Sacramento needs to remain focused on task at hand.

Get to the Line -- Sacramento continues to rank last in the league in free throw attempts at 17.5 freebies per game. Willie Cauley-Stein ranks first on the team with 3.3 attempts and Fox is second at 2.9, but the team needs more out of players like Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Zach Randolph.

SERIES HISTORY

The Kings and Mavs are all tied up at 1-1 this season, with each team winning on the road. Dallas hold a 93-68 advantage over the Kings all-time, and a 76-55 lead during the Sacramento-era.

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic re-injures left knee, needs another procedure

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Associated Press

Kings' Bogdan Bogdanovic re-injures left knee, needs another procedure

SACRAMENTO -- After a week of speculation, the verdict on Kings shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic’s knee is in.

For the second time this offseason, the Serbian is heading for a procedure on his left knee after an MRI revealed a minor injury. The timetable for his return is unknown at this time.

Bogdanovic re-injured his knee Monday while playing for the Serbian national team in World Cup qualifying. He felt discomfort in the knee during the first quarter against Estonia and left the game early. Once Bogdanovic was back in Sacramento, the Kings medical staff evaluated the 26-year-old wing this week and determined that action was needed.

According to the Kings, Monday’s procedure will be performed by Dr. Riley Williams in New York, and Bogdanovic is expected to make a full recovery. The team will send an update when more is known.

Bogdanovic averaged 11.8 points, 3.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game for Sacramento in his rookie NBA season.

Zach Randolph: Kings training camp profile

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USATSI

Zach Randolph: Kings training camp profile

No one was more consistent on the offensive end for Sacramento than Zach Randolph last season. He fought back father time as long as possible and then finished the season as a spectator when the Kings went young.

Nothing is guaranteed in season two as a King for Randolph. The 37-year-old forward cashed in with the Kings, signing a two-year, $24 million deal in 2017. He’s owed $11.7 million this season, making him difficult to move via trade.  

The Kings plan to go young this year from the opening tip. That doesn’t bode well for Z-Bo, who is nearly twice the age of Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles III. 

Strengths

Randolph is a legendary tough guy that brings a grit and a personality to the floor. As he’s advanced as a player, he’s focused more on his perimeter game, extending all the way to the 3-point line where he shot an impressive 34.7 percent last season. 

Still a reliable scorer in the post, the Kings turned to the 17-year NBA veteran on countless occasions last season to help steady the ship. Randolph shot 63 percent at the rim and 50.9 percent inside of 10 feet last season. 

While he struggles to get off the floor, Randolph still managed to post 9.5 rebounds per 36 minutes last season by positioning and using his strength on the blocks.

On the defensive side of the ball, Randolph’s physical limitations hurt the team in transition and against quicker players. He can still hold his position in the post, but as a defender, he’s not a great option.

Weaknesses

The Kings went out and drafted a Ferrari to play the point guard and then paired him with a mack truck. Randolph is too slow to play in the uptempo offense the team hopes to transition to this season and would be better suited playing for a team that place a more methodical half court game.

As his game has moved away from the basket, Randolph’s field goal percentage and free throw attempts have steadily declined. He posted 2.2 assists per game last season, which is well above his career average, but he’s not a natural passer. 

Father time is undefeated. Randolph is stationary on both ends of the court. He can still score in bunches and get a rebound when you need it, but he can’t defend more athletic fours.

Path to Improvement

There is no way to turn back the hands of time. By adding the 3-point shot, Randolph extended his NBA career for few extra seasons, but even that has its limitations. 

The only path for improvement this season for Randolph is taking on an even larger role as a leader and locker room influence behind the scenes. With a fleet of young bigs, the Kings need Randolph to become more of a coach than a player and help teach the ins and outs of being a professional and the finer nuances of NBA post play. 

Projection

This is a complex situation. If the primary focus was just on wins, Randolph could still play 18-20 minutes per game and put up numbers. The Kings are going to run and gun and it’s hard to imagine Z-Bo keeping up. 

Bagley, Giles and Willie Cauley-Stein are the future and the present. Nemanja Bjelica fits the role of stretch four and Skal Labissiere is going to need some minutes as well. It’s a crowded front line and we haven’t even mentioned veteran Kosta Koufos. 

Z-Bo started 57 games and played 25.6 minutes per night last season for Dave Joerger. It would be shocking to see that again this year. Things can change, but Randolph’s court time should be limited this offseason barring a series of injuries or a complete collapse of scheme.