Kings

NBA Gameday: Cousins, Kings get first look at Joel Embiid

NBA Gameday: Cousins, Kings get first look at Joel Embiid

After a tough overtime loss to the Washington Wizards on Monday night, the Sacramento Kings continue on to Philadelphia for game three of their six-game road trip Wednesday evening.

DeMarcus Cousins dropped in 36 points and 20 rebounds against Washington, giving him four straight games with 30 or more points. But if the Kings are going to make the long climb back to .500 on the season, they are going to need all hands on deck. More than half the rotation had an off night against the Wizards and that’s a recipe for disaster for Sacramento.

Philly is young and inexperienced, but they play hard every night for head coach Brett Brown. The 76ers have lost four straight, but they come in with a well rested Joel Embiid who sat out Monday as a healthy scratch.

OPENING LINE

Kings by 5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Rudy Gay vs. Robert Covington -- Gay has cooled after a fast start to the season, but he is still posting solid numbers for Sacramento, including a career-best 40 percent shooting from behind the arc. Covington has struggled with his shot early, averaging just 8.4 points on 30.8 percent shooting from the field through 18 games. But he’s fresh off a 20-point performance where he hit 6-of-9 from distance and he is a dangerous defender on the wing.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 7-11, fourth place in Pacific

76ers: 4-14, last place in Atlantic

INJURY REPORT

Kings: No injuries to report.

76ers: G Jerryd Bayless (wrist) questionable, C Nerlens Noel (knee) out, F Ben Simmons (foot) out.

SERIES HISTORY

These two teams split the season series last year, with each club coming away with a victory on the road. Philadelphia holds a 162-124 advantage all-time over the Kings and a 31-29 lead during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE

“We’ve just got to be better. Our bench guys and our role players have to do a better job of helping DeMarcus. It feels like he’s doing anything he can to win the game for us. We’ve just got to be better.” -Omri Casspi following the Kings loss to Washington on Monday
 

Seven fearless Kings predictions for 2018-19 NBA season

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USATSI

Seven fearless Kings predictions for 2018-19 NBA season

Just as predicting the Golden State Warriors’ upcoming season based on the traditional metric of “Will they win the championship?” is a monumentally pointless exercise, so is asking any similar question of the Sacramento Kings. They are as easily predictable as the Warriors, because they are the same team every year – no matter who’s on it.
 
Nevertheless, let’s play our game. “Will they win half their games?” No. Of course not. Not even close. You don’t get to be this bad for this long without having plans for being this bad awhile longer.
 
So what can we expect of them? What are their capabilities, minimal though they might seem? Who are they, and what will we discuss when that annoying guy in the office snaps at all the LeBron and Durant conversations and brings up Marvin Bagley?
 
Well, here’s what:
 
JOERGER-BOMB WATCH:
 
Head coach Dave Joerger is already past Sacramento’s sell-by date because he has coached 164 Kings games, putting him ahead of the following coaches in Sacramento Kings history:
 
George Karl.
 
Tyrone Corbin.
 
Michael Malone.
 
Keith Smart.
 
Calvin Natt.
 
Reggie Theus.
 
Eric Musselman.
 
Eddie Jordan.
 
Dick Motta.
 
Rex Hughes.
 
Jerry Reynolds.
 
Bill Russell.
 
Phil Johnson.
 
Joerger will last long enough to pass Paul Westphal on October 30, but needs three more years to pass Garry St. Jean and seven more years to pass Rick Adelman (including playoffs). Joerger is easy money to pass Westphal, but has no chance at the other two. Why? Sacramento. That’s why.
 
HAPPIER PLAYERS:
 
At least for awhile, because of the corrosive nature of losing. Bagley and De’Aaron Fox and Harry Giles and Willie Cauley-Stein and Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovich (once he’s healthy again) might enjoy the Sactown experience for awhile (and their joy will somehow be linked, largely unfairly, to the absence of DeMarcus Cousins), but this is the year in which they either grow together or grow apart. See Dave Joerger for the tell on how this goes.
 
Z-BO:
 
Because a day without saying “Z-Bo” is like a day without smiles. 
 
SKAL LABISSIERE:
 
See the Z-Bo item above.
 
THE OBLIGATORY VLADE PRESSER:
 
At some point, he will come out with his perpetually exhausted expression and explain why something has gone wrong and how it isn’t actually wrong at all. People will nod and give their heartfelt “Yeah, whatevers,” and then we’ll all go back to our lives. We’re waiting for the Western Conference window to reopen in two years before we know if the Kings got this all right, but in the meantime Vlade must explain how all is going according to plan while they are 10-23.
 
THE GOLDEN 1 HONEYMOON:
 
The new arena has been filled for every game since it opened two years ago, but at some point empty seats may be announced, or at the very least manifest themselves. The Kings have been such a persistent disappointment that the fan base will at some point make its feelings of ennui be heard, because nobody’s patience is unlimited.
 
THE MISSING DRAFT PICK:
 
The Kings are in some ways playing either for Boston or Philadelphia (if it ends up being No. 1), since their top pick reverts to one of those teams as part of the still epochal Rajon Rondo-Marco Belinelli-Kosta Koufos trade in 2015. 
 
This means the Celtics and Sixers will attempt to run up the score each of the four times they play Sacramento, and the Kings will receive standing ovations in both cities this year. The Eastern Conference now runs through Sacramento, which makes since the Western Conference just runs over it.
 
OH, AND ATLANTA, TOO:
 
The Hawks are trying to be even worse than Sacramento to get the first pick. We should just mention that in passing.
 
HISTORY:
 
The Kings’ worst stretch in Sacramento was a decade ago, when they needed four seasons (2009-12) to win one season’s worth of games. This won’t be that barring injury, surrender or revolt, but as much as young players say a team’s history isn’t theirs, the weight of such relentless organizational failure has its weight. The Warriors felt it as they detached, slowly, from the Chris Cohan era, and the Kings feel it now. The task for them is to genuinely reinvent themselves while hearing “Same old Kings” every day. They need to make 30 wins feel like 50, as counterintuitive as that seems.
 
Then again, what are the Kings if not essentially counterintuitive?

Five ways Kings can jump in NBA standings in 2018-19 season

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AP

Five ways Kings can jump in NBA standings in 2018-19 season

SACRAMENTO -- Death and taxes. Those are the only two certainties in life, according to Benjamin Franklin.

The Sacramento Kings missing the NBA playoffs didn’t make the list.

After 12 seasons of struggles, the team appears no closer to snapping its playoff drought. The odds makers are against them, and so are the NBA talking heads. The consensus is 25 to 27 wins, and some believe even that's generous.

The Kings will enter the season with only one player over the age of 25 in their rotation -- 30-year-old Nemanja Bjelica, who was on his way back to Europe before a phone call from Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic changed his career path. 

Three of the Kings’ youngsters aren’t old enough to walk into a bar, and half of the team is too young to rent a car. 

But this is professional sports. Every year, the win/loss record is reset to zero, and there's always a glimmer of hope for each and every team. 

Sacramento is up against it, but if a few things fall the right way, there is a chance for a better-than-predicted season. Here are five ways the Kings can take a jump in the standings and surprise people around the league.

De'Aaron Fox wins gold in the triple-jump

A leap isn’t enough. The Kings need their point guard to go from 11.6 points and 4.4 assists per game to something closer to 18.5 points and 7.0 assists.

Fox has taken some huge strides in his maturity and appears to be taking ownership of the team. The team was built to play to Fox’s speed and athleticism. If he can push the tempo and become the two-way player he’s shown flashes of, the Kings can make a nice uptick in the standings. 

Buddy Hield = Jamal Crawford

Hield has shown signs of being a next-level scorer. He can bomb the 3-ball with the best of them, and he has improved in most facets of the game.

The Kings have tried to push Hield into the starting lineup, but he struggles in the role. Where he has found his niche is off the bench as the team’s primary scorer with the second unit. He averaged 13.5 points per game last season in that role, and he could easily push that closer to 20 if he took a couple more 3-pointers and found a way to get to the free-throw line. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic gets healthy

Bogdanovic spent his rookie season trying to fit in, but late in the campaign, he showed that he can be a big-money player.

Two knee procedures have Bogdanovic on the sidelines for a minimum of 10 games, but he’ll likely slide right back into the starting lineup when he’s healthy. If he can play a little more selfish brand of basketball, the Kings would be a better team and he would put up substantially better numbers.

Willie be consistent?

Management talks about it. Coaches talk about it. Willie Cauley-Stein talks about it. After three seasons of erratic play, the Kings are hoping that the allure of a giant payday is the final motivating factor to get their 25-year-old center to bring the same energy and effort for all 82 games.

Cauley-Stein wants to be the Unicorn. The team would settle for 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game. If Cauley-Stein shows up every night and Kings coach Dave Joerger can pencil him in for a double-double, the Kings are a better team.

Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles battle for Rookie of the Year Honors

The Sticky Bandits. The Wet Bandits. The Kings need Harry and Marv to be more successful than the two villains chasing Kevin McCallister around town in the "Home Alone" movies.

Bagley and Giles both have tremendous upside and an opportunity to make a difference as rookies. They’ll make mistakes, but these two have the potential to be building blocks for the organization. If they learn on the fly and play more like second- or third-year pros, the Kings will be fun to watch.