Kings

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 105-88 preseason win over Suns

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 105-88 preseason win over Suns

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SACRAMENTO -- After a 17,000-mile round-trip adventure to India, the Kings returned to their home court Thursday night to face the Phoenix Suns. 

With a few days of practice under their belt, the Kings looked fresh and focused. They cleaned up some of their issues that cost them in back-to-back losses to the Indiana Pacers, and throttled the Suns 105-88 at Golden 1 Center. 

Devin Booker led Phoenix with 18 points and seven rebounds. Rookie Jevon Carter added 16 points off the bench, but it wasn’t nearly enough for the Suns.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings improved to 1-2 on their 2019-20 preseason schedule. 

Two-Way

De’Aaron Fox is the head of the snake when it comes to the Kings’ offense, but he also has tremendous potential on the defensive end. 

Fox pestered the Phoenix’s guards all night, picking up three steals and a pair of blocks while limiting Ricky Rubio to just four points and four turnovers in 20 minutes of action.

In addition to wreaking havoc on the defensive end, the third-year guard pushed the tempo to finish the game with 18 points and six assists to lead the Kings in both categories.

Glass Crashers

Sacramento was dominated on the glass in their first two preseason games in India. That was not the case in their preseason home opener against the Suns.

Marvin Bagley dominated the Suns early, grabbing 12 rebounds before the two teams could get to the intermission. The second-year big only grabbed one rebound after the half to finish with a 12-point, 13-rebound double-double.

Playing alongside Bagley, Dewayne Dedmon added 11 rebounds in 20 minutes, giving the Kings a pair of double-figure rebounders. 

Overall, the Kings buried the Suns on the glass, coming away with a 59-43 advantage. 

Bogi and Richaun

Fresh off an excellent showing at the FIBA World Cup, Bogdan Bogdanovic is in mid-season form and he’s found a new running mate with the second unit. Bogdanovic carved up the Suns defense and when the defense collapsed, he just flipped the ball up near the rim for Richaun Holmes to go get.

[RELATED: Fox letting personality shine in Year 3]

Bogdanovic had a similar on-court relationship with Willie Cauley-Stein over the last two seasons in Sacramento, but it’s surprising to see the type of chemistry he has with Holmes after just three games.

Holmes finished the night with 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting to go with six rebounds. Bogdanovic dropped in 12 points and added three assists to help pace the Kings’ bench in the win.

With De'Aaron Fox out long term, who should Luke Walton start at point?

With De'Aaron Fox out long term, who should Luke Walton start at point?

SACRAMENTO --  Nine games in and the 2019-20 season feels like it’s on the brink of disaster for the Sacramento Kings. Injuries are part of the game, but the first month of the season has dealt Sacramento two game-altering blows.

Marvin Bagley continues to rehab from a broken thumb. He’s out another week and a half to two weeks at a minimum, although he’s on the court keeping in shape and should be able to step in once cleared.

The De’Aaron Fox situation is much direr. Fox is going to miss a quarter of the season, perhaps more after Monday’s injury at practice.  

A Grade 3 ankle sprain is a full tear of the ankle ligament. Recovery times vary, but barring a change in the diagnosis or a miraculous recovery, Fox is likely out until after the New Year and possibly longer.

It’s not how the Kings scripted this season. Bagley and Fox are being counted on to become the cornerstones of the franchise. Bagley’s injury is a blip on the radar. Fox’s will have the 21-year-old playing plenty of Call of Duty on his couch over the next month or two.

Coach Luke Walton has options to replace Fox, but this isn’t a temporary situation. He doesn’t have another dynamic attacking threat like Fox, but neither does any other team in the league.

Walton needs to change the direction of the season by installing a player who can at least come close to matching Fox’s production on the offensive end. He has three options to mull over, but no one is a perfect fit.

Cory Joseph is the most logical choice on paper. General manager Vlade Divac invested heavily in the veteran point guard in free agency for a moment just like this. Unfortunately, Joseph is more of a defensive specialist that gives Walton a change of pace.

Throughout his nine-year NBA career, Joseph has posted just 6.9 points per game, with a high of 9.3 points per game during the 2016-17 season as a member of the Toronto Raptors. He’s a game manager that rarely makes mistakes, but he’s also scored 21 points or more just once in his career and crested the 20-point mark three times in total over 537 games.

Yogi Ferrell came into the season as the Kings’ third point guard. He’s a dynamic scorer and a fan favorite, but he’s the anti-Cory Joseph in many respects. He’s a player that might fit alongside Joseph with the second unit, but inserting into the starting lineup might be an issue. He's more or a score-first guard than a natural point and putting him next to Buddy Hield might not work at all.

A luxury to start the season, Ferrell is now needed. After averaging just five minutes over five games this season, he’ll be an instant add to the rotation and has the potential to instantly add an offensive punch. Fans should dust off their “Yo-gi ... Fer-rell” chants.

Lastly, Walton’s ace in the hole might be Bogdan Bogdanovic. The most versatile player on the Kings' roster, Bogdanovic is on a tear over his last few games. He’s played both guard positions, as well as small forward and he works well as a primary ball-handler. 

Bogdanovic isn’t the defender that Joseph is and he also isn’t lightning in a bottle like Ferrell, but he’s the most balanced player the Kings have on their roster and he’s capable of not only picking up the scoring void left by Fox’s absence but also running the offense.

Losing Fox’s playmaking should be the primary focus with the starting unit and Bogdanovic gives the team the best option. He’s currently second on the team in assist percentage and he has a 3.3-to-1.4 assists-to-turnover ratio so far this season.

Bogdanovic is also one of the longest-tenured Kings players and has chemistry with Hield and Harrison Barnes, as well as Nemanja Bjelica, who he plays with during the summer with the Serbian national team.

Moving a player from the bench will also have a trickle-down effect, but this is a long term injury situation and Walton needs stability. Bogdanovic would be missed from the second unit, but some of that loss could be mitigated by Ferrell and his scoring ability.

[RELATED: What Fox's injury means for Kings]

There is no perfect solution. Fox is extremely important to the Kings’ entire game plan and losing him is a crushing blow for a group searching for their identity.

Walton has a tough decision, but the Kings aren’t the first team to lose a star player and they certainly won’t be the last. They need more than a stop-gap. They need a solution for the next 25-plus games and perhaps longer.

What De'Aaron Fox's ankle injury means for young, snake-bitten Kings

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What De'Aaron Fox's ankle injury means for young, snake-bitten Kings

SACRAMENTO -- The hits keep on coming for the Sacramento Kings. First Marvin Bagley broke his right thumb during the season opener against the Phoenix Suns. Now De’Aaron Fox is going to miss time as well.

Fox injured his left ankle Monday during practice. An MRI at the team’s practice facility revealed that the Kings’ starting point guard has an ankle sprain and will be re-evaluated by the team in 3-4 weeks by the team's medical staff. According to a league source, Fox has a Grade 3 left ankle sprain.

Durable through his first two seasons in the league, Fox has missed a total of 10 games as a pro, including just one last season for Sacramento.

After a breakout second season, Fox is off to another good start in Year Three. The 21-year-old is averaging 18.2 points, seven assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes per game for coach Luke Walton this season.

His turnover numbers are up in the Kings’ new system, but the Kings rely heavily on his speed and quickness to breakdown opposing defenses.

The Kings dropped the first five games of the season, but they’ve won three out of their last four games heading into Tuesday’s matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, and they currently stand at 3-6 on the year. Losing Fox for an extended period of time is a huge blow to the team, but Walton has other options at the position.

General manager Vlade Divac loaded up on point guards over the summer, adding veteran Cory Joseph to the mix on a three-year, $37 million deal. They also picked up a team option on Yogi Ferrell, which gives them additional depth.

During the preseason schedule, Walton also turned to shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic to eat some of the minutes at the point. The Kings' sixth-man is capable of stepping into a primary ball handler role alongside Buddy Hield if need be.

[RELATED: Why Hield thinks Fox can be one of NBA's best]

In addition to Joseph, Ferrell and Bogdanovic, Sacramento has a pair of rookies they can use in the backcourt in Justin James and Kyle Guy. James is on the regular roster and Kyle Guy is currently playing for the Stockton Kings on a two-way contract. Guy can be recalled and spend up to 45 days with the parent club if they feel they need more guard depth.

Injuries are part of the game, but the Kings have certainly started off the year with some bad luck.