Two positives, two negatives from Kings' first win of 2018-19 season

Two positives, two negatives from Kings' first win of 2018-19 season

Three games into the regular season and the Sacramento Kings are starting to establish themselves as a scoring juggernaut. After a 131-120 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, they might be more than just a young team having fun sprinting up and down the court.

It’s early, but Sacramento is playing an exciting brand of basketball. There will be plenty of nights when things go wrong, but they also have a chance to shock some people.

Here are two positives and two negatives from the Kings’ first win of the season.

POSITIVES

Shumpert Shines

One of the bigger unknowns coming into the season showed up Sunday evening and helped pin a loss on the Thunder. Inserted into the starting lineup to match up with OKC, Iman Shumpert went off for a 26 points on 9-of-13 from the field and four makes from long range. 

The scoring burst is the largest for Shumpert since Jan 2, 2014, when he dropped 27 points on the Spurs as member of the Knicks. He’s missed plenty of games due to injury over his career, including 68 games last season, but the veteran wing is finally healthy and appears ready to contribute. 

Oklahoma City seemed caught off guard by the scoring explosion from both Shumpert and the rest of the Kings team. While he can’t be counted on for big offensive numbers like this on a regular basis, Shumpert can help the Kings as a leader and a defender. 

A Win 

The Kings’ schedule is brutal to start the season. They play 7-of-10 on the road against plenty of playoff teams. There wasn’t a surefire win in sight, including Sunday’s game where Sacramento was a 10-point underdog.

Seven players scored in double-figures for the Kings and another two scored eight or more. Sacramento shot 54.9 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from behind the arc. This was the third straight game that the Kings shot over 50 percent from the field and they are averaging 125.7 points per game through three contests. 

Winning doesn’t cure all, but it is important for a young team to get rewarded on occasion. If the Kings continue to put up points and they figure out how to play a little defense, this might become a more regular occurrence.  

NEGATIVES

Turnover Bug

In the opener, Sacramento turned the ball over just nine times as a team. In Friday’s loss to the Pelicans, that number jumped to 13 and against the Thunder, the Kings gave it up a total of 20 times, which helped lead to 29 fastbreak points for OKC.

The Kings have gone young and young players make mistakes. De’Aaron Fox turned the ball over four times on the night, but he also scored 22 points and dished out 10 assists. Marvin Bagley struggled to hold onto the ball as well, giving it away four times in 23 minutes. 

Sacramento is playing at a crazy pace. Mistakes will happen, but they need to value the ball.

Broken Glass

So far this season, the Kings are not a very good rebounding team. The issue was huge early in the game against OKC, with big man Steven Adams pulling down eight of the Thunder’s 16 rebounds in the first quarter. 

Like the turnover issue, rebounds often led to points for the Thunder. For the game, OKC outscored the Kings 29-7 on second chance points. It’s and alarming disparity that could have cost the Kings a win. 

The Thunder outrebounded the Kings 51-46, including 18-12 on the offensive end. The rebounding differential led to 104 shots for OKC, compared to just 91 attempts for the Kings. 

Bagley and Willie Cauley-Stein led the Kings with seven rebounds each, but the team needs more from every player on the court.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from first win of the season over Thunder

Kings takeaways: What we learned from first win of the season over Thunder

BOX SCORE

The search is over.

After dropping their first two games of the NBA season, the Sacramento Kings jumped all over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Russell Westbrook's return. 

The Thunder kept it close, but the high-powered Kings offense kept rolling, coming away with a shocking 131-120 win on the road.

Iman Shumpert came up huge for Sacramento, but it was a team effort. Seven Kings players scored in double figures, including a big -time double-double from De’Aaron Fox. 

Westbrook and Paul George combined for 61 points, but it wasn’t enough for the still-winless Thunder to keep up with a young Kings team. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings start 1-2 on the season.

Shumpert wants minutes

The easiest way to earn minutes in the NBA is to take advantage of every opportunity. After playing just 14 games last season, Shumpert started Sunday for the Kings and made the coaching staff take notice. 

Shumpert scorched the Thunder for 16 points in the first quarter to get the Kings off to a fast start. He finished the evening with 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He added four assists, three rebounds, three steals and two blocks in 30 minutes. 

That’s how you earn more minutes. 

Fox vs. Westbrook 

Fox grew up idolizing Westbrook. After averaging 11 points and 7.7 assists versus against the Thunder last season, the second-year pro went to work in OKC. 

Fox scored 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting and added 10 assists in 42 minutes of action. More importantly, he helped lead the team to its first win on the season.  

Westbrook returned from injury after missing the first two games and put up a typical 32-point, 12-rebound, eight-assist performance.  

Harry and Marv

The rookie bigs will have struggles some nights, and on others, they’ll find ways to help the team win. Against the Thunder, Harry Giles came in and found a way to slow NBA strongman Steven Adams, finishing with eight points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks in a solid 17 minutes of action. 

Marvin Bagley got his scoring game going late, dropping in 13 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench. He was active on the glass and earned some crunch-time minutes. 

The young guys are showing signs of improvement every time they step on the floor.

Russell Westbrook will make his season debut for Thunder against Kings

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AP

Russell Westbrook will make his season debut for Thunder against Kings

Things just got a little more difficult for the Sacramento Kings. After starting the season 0-2, they headed into Sunday without knowing whether former league MVP, Russell Westbrook, would be able play against them or not. As game time approached, the Thunder made the announcement.

Westbrook, 29, sat out Oklahoma City’s first two games after undergoing surgery on his right knee back on Sept. 12. It was the fourth knee surgery for Westbrook since 2013. 

The seven-time All-Star is coming off back-to-back seasons in which he averaged a triple-double. In four games against Sacramento last season, Westbrook posted 18.3 points, 13.2 rebounds and 9.3 assists in 36 minutes per game. 

According to ESPN’s Royce Young, Westbrook has no minute restrictions tonight against the Kings. He’ll start alongside Terrance Ferguson, Paul George, Patrick Patterson and Steven Adams as the Thunder look for their first win of the season.