Fresh off a win in their preseason opener on Monday, the Sacramento Kings look to make it two in a row. They’ll take on LeBron James and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center Thursday evening.
It’s the first of a brutal back-to-back, featuring two of the heavy hitters in the Western Conference. Following the game in LA, the Kings will board a flight to the Pacific Northwest where they’ll face the Warriors at Key Arena for the first game played in Seattle in a decade.
Here are three things to watch as the Kings attempt to improve to 2-0 during the preseason.
It’s a continuing theme, but the Kings are a very young team. Whether it’s summer league or preseason, building a winning culture matters.
A victory over the Suns is step one. Competing against teams like the Lakers and Warriors is another move in the right direction. Games count for real in a couple of weeks. It would be nice to see the team walk into the regular season with a little bit of confidence.
Let the game slow down
Harry Giles III looked like a whirling dervish early in the game against Phoenix. He picked up two fouls early and rushed shots at the rim and from the perimeter. As the game continued, he started to settle in and make better decisions, which is huge for his growth.
Marvin Bagley III struggled with the same issue in the Kings’ debut, but he never found his comfort level. The sooner Bagley has that moment, the better for Sacramento. He’s a high-end talent, but the game is moving way too fast right now.
Who stops LeBron?
No one really has an answer to this question. For the last 15 years, James has been the best player on the planet. He’s a physical freak and he continues to adapt his game as he moves into the final phase of his career.
If James is playing the small forward position, Justin Jackson will likely get a first look. If he’s playing the four, Dave Joerger is going to have to get creative. Giles and Bagley both played the four in the opener, as did Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. None of them are natural matchups against James.
If the Lakers feature the 14-time All-Star, the Kings could be in for a long evening.