SACRAMENTO -- The end of preseason is near. After running over Maccabi Haifa on Monday, the Sacramento Kings draw a tougher opponent Thursday night when the Utah Jazz drop by Golden 1 Center.
Sacramento currently sits at 2-2 for the exhibition season. They’ll finish things off with a back-to-back as they will play in Portland on Friday.
Harry Giles III and Marvin Bagley III will get their first look at former Duke teammate, Grayson Allen, when the Jazz roll through town. The 23-year-old rookie was selected by Utah with the 21st pick in the 2018 NBA Draft after spending four seasons with Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.
Here are three things to watch as Sacramento looks to battle a tough Western Conference foe.
Battle of the sophomores
The Kings drafted De’Aaron Fox with the fifth overall selection last season, but it was Donovan Mitchell, the tenth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, that found massive success as a rookie.
The two guards should see time against each other Thursday night. Fox has the potential to defend a player like Mitchell, but he’ll have to show that he can sustain the pressure for an extended period of time.
Mitchell was an offensive juggernaut in his first season out of Louisville. He led all rookies in scoring at 20.5 points per game and finished second behind Philly’s Ben Simmons in the Rookie of the Year balloting.
Slow the Gobstopper
Rudy Gobert has developed into a weapon for Jazz head coach, Quin Snyder. Willie Cauley-Stein will get the first opportunity to shut down the 7-foot Frenchman, but it will take a team effort from Sacramento.
Gobert is outstanding in the pick-and-roll, he hits the glass hard and he alters more shots than any other player in the game. The Kings need to keep a body on Utah’s big man or he’ll ruin their evening.
Continue to improve
Preseason is an opportunity for the young players to get minutes without having to look over their shoulder. We have seen some good things during the preseason, but also plenty of mistakes.
On paper, Utah looks like a 50-plus win team this season. This is a quality opponent and another chance to hit the floor and get better for Sacramento, regardless of the final score.