The NBA season is drawing near. We still have more than a month before training camp opens, but the season will be here before you know it.
For the Sacramento Kings, it’s a season of transition. With a new coaching staff and plenty of offseason additions, Sacramento needs to hit the ground running if they hope to snap their 13-year playoff drought.
On Monday, the NBA signaled the winddown of the summer break when they announced the 82 game schedule for all 30 teams.
Here are some of the things you have to know from this season’s Kings campaign.
Nuts and Bolts
The Kings will open the 2019-20 campaign in Phoenix against Devin Booker and the Suns on October 23. It’s a chance for former high school teammates Marvin Bagley and Deandre Ayton to match up and continue their rivalry. Sacramento won three out of four last season against the Suns.
After playing the Suns, the Kings travel home where they’ll open their home slate at Golden 1 Center on Oct. 25 with a battle against the Portland Trail Blazers. Sacramento allowed Portland to come back from a huge deficit in the final game of the 2018-19 season. The Kings should remember that loss well.
Sacramento has 13 sets of back-to-backs, two shy of last season’s total of 15 sets. Of those 13 sets, two are home-and-home, five are away-and-away, two are away-and-home and four are home-and-away.
The Kings hit the road for their longest trip away from home in mid-January, stopping in Utah, Miami, Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota between Jan. 18-27. It’s a similar trip to the one the Kings underwent last season from Jan. 17-27, although the NBA jammed in an extra game last year.
The longest homestand for the Kings is six games between March 26 and April 5. They’ll host the Hawks, Pacers, Spurs, Clippers, Lakers and Cavs before venturing back out on the road.
From Dec. 23 to Jan. 15, the Kings play 10 out of 12 games at home. They’ll host the Rockets, T-Wolves and Suns before traveling to Denver for a game. They’ll come back home to play the Clippers, Grizzlies, Pelicans and Warriors before a quick stop in Phoenix. They’ll finish off the set at home against the Bucks, Magic and Mavs.
Pacific Division rivals
Sacramento matches up with the new-look Warriors four times this season. They’ll get their first taste of Chase Center in San Francisco on Dec. 15. The two teams will meet again on Jan. 6 at Golden 1 and then back to Chase Center coming out of the All-Star break on Feb. 25. Sacramento finishes the 2019-20 season with one more battle against their closest geographic rival at home on April 15. Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and DeMarcus Cousins are all gone and Klay Thompson is expected at least two of the four matchups between the two teams. The Warriors added former Kings big man Willie Cauley-Stein and volume scorer D’Angelo Russell in a wild summer of roster turnover.
The Kings battle another new version of the Los Angeles Lakers beginning on Nov. 15 at Staples Center. The Lakers have added Cousins, along with superstar big man Anthony Davis to the squad. The Kings won’t see the Lakers for a second time until Feb. 1 at Golden 1 Center and then again not until April 4 and April 14. The league likely will get a gift basket from the Kings for finishing off the season with a back-to-back against the Lakers and Warriors.
The Lakers bulked up, but they might not be the best team in LA. The Clippers pulled off a coup when they landed a pair of star forwards in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They were able to keep much of their core together, including the high-scoring bench duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Sacramento’s four games against the Clippers are paced out with the first one coming in Sacramento on Dec. 31. The two teams will meet in LA on Jan. 30 and Feb. 22 and then finish off the four-game set at home on April 2.
Other games of intrigue
Sacramento faces Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic and his Dallas Mavericks for the first time on Dec. 8. The Kings passed on Doncic during the 2018 NBA Draft, instead selecting Marvin Bagley with the No. 2 overall selection.
Kings fans will get their first look at highly-touted top overall pick Zion Williamson on Jan. 4 when the New Orleans Pelicans roll through Sacramento.