NBA Gameday: Kings vs Kings the matchup to watch against Heat

NBA Gameday: Kings vs Kings the matchup to watch against Heat

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings open a seven-game homestand Wednesday night against a completely depleted Miami Heat squad. Both teams are playing the second night of a back-to-back, but Miami had just eight healthy bodies in their 99-90 loss to the Suns on Tuesday night and they might not have any more than that against the Kings.

Sacramento is coming off an impressive road win in Denver. They used a team effort to come away with a 120-113 win, highlighted by season-high scoring performances from Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo and Kosta Koufos. With the win, the Kings hold a game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race.

The Heat are struggling through their early schedule. They’ve lost six straight and 9-of-10 heading into Wednesday night’s matchup in Sacramento. Veteran point guard Goran Dragic is having a solid season, averaging 19 points and 6.8 assists, but he needs more help if the Heat have any chance of taking down the Kings at home.

OPENING LINE

Kings by 8.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Kings vs. Kings -- The Miami Heat have eight or nine healthy bodies coming into Tuesday night’s game. Regular starters Whiteside, Winslow and Waiters are out for sure, leaving Goran Dragic and possibly Tyler Johnson with a makeshift group. No excuses. Sacramento would have been favored over a healthy Heat team. If they lose this one, no more playoff talk for a month.    

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 15-19, third place in Pacific

Heat: 10-26, last place in Southeast

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PG Ty Lawson (fractured sinus/blurry vision) questionable, F Rudy Gay (hip flexor) questionable.

Heat: F Chris Bosh (blood clots) out, F Josh McRoberts (foot) out, Hassan Whiteside (eye) out, SF Justise Winslow (shoulder) out, SG Dion Waiters (groin) out, G Tyler Johnson (migraine) did not play Tuesday in Phoenix, F James Johnson (illness) did not play Tuesday in Phoenix.

SERIES HISTORY

Sacramento has lost five straight to the Heat, including a brutal 108-96 overtime stumble on Nov. 11 in Miami. The Heat hold a 39-17 advantage all-time over the Kings.  

QUOTE

“I’ll be the first one to say that we’re not a perfect team. We’re not a team that’s going to come out and blow out teams on a nightly basis, but we have to come and approach games the right way on a nightly basis. We got to grind it out, we’ve got to play together, we’ve got to defend at a high level all four quarters or games are going to be tough to win.” -DeMarcus Cousins following the Kings win over the Nuggets on Tuesday night

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

Kings finish 2017 NBA Draft with night that can turn franchise around

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings had a big draft night. The kind of night that might turn a franchise around. They entered the evening with three picks, including two in the top 10. With their first selection, they filled the franchise’s biggest need when they drafted De’Aaron Fox and then they went to work.
 
Vlade Divac and his team of front office execs jumped on an early trade, dealing the No. 10 overall selection to the Portland Trail Blazers for No. 15 and No. 20. North Carolina’s Justin Jackson was too appealing to pass on, and like Fox, he fit a major position of need. 
 
Sacramento came back with the 20th selection, taking one of the biggest risk/reward picks in the draft. Duke’s Harry Giles is playing on rebuilt knees, but before that, he was one of the top prospects in all of basketball. If he can stay healthy, the Kings may have drafted the biggest steal of the night. 
 
They topped off the evening with the selection of Wooden and Naismith Award winner Frank Mason III with the 34th overall pick. The Kings entered the night without a single point guard and they ended it with two very exciting options. 
 
“I’m very excited about the talent that we brought here tonight,” Divac said. “They’re going to just be an addition to what we’re trying to build here in the second half of the season.”
 
The Kings turned down overtures to move up to draft Fox. The 19-year-old speedster will step in and immediately compete for the starting point guard spot and he’s very excited to be a King.
 
“It’s just the vibe that I got when I was out there,” Fox told local Sacramento media via phone. “I felt like they really wanted me.” 
 
John Calipari is known for his bevy of All-Star bigs throughout the league, but he’s also produced a long line of big-time guards. Sacramento is hoping that Fox can live up to the billing of other former Calipari guards like Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall. According to Divac, the Kings were so high on Fox, they would have taken him higher. 
 
“Screaming,” Divac said about the reaction in the room to Fox falling in their lap. “It was a guy that we all loved and in some way, if we had the number 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy.”
 
“De’Aaron is our future,” Divac added.
 
Without a perfect fit at 10, Divac made an adjustment on the fly to add more assets. The decision to trade 10 for 15 and 20 was very similar to the last season when the Kings dealt the eighth overall pick for No. 13, 28 and the draft rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. By splitting the pick in two, the Kings were able to land two talented pieces that mesh with the current roster build.
 
Jackson and Fox know each other well. The duo played AAU ball together and Fox says he considers Jackson an older brother.  He is friends with Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere from their Kentucky connection.
 
“I feel like we can grow together,” Fox said of the Kings’ young core. “Of course, it’s going to take some time, but every franchise takes time.”
 
Fox is the jewel of the night and Jackson will compete for time at the wing, but Giles is the wildcard. The 19-year-old big can play the four and the five and has elite potential. 
 
“I’m so excited he was there for us at the 20,” Divac said. “That kind of talent you can’t pass.”
 
The Kings have done their homework on Giles. The type of knee injury that he sustained is similar to former NBA players Danny Manning, Amaré Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin. Manning and Martin each played 15 years in the league and Stoudemire lasted 14 seasons before retiring in 2016. After meeting him in person in Sacramento and working him out, they are very confident that he will be able to overcome his injuries and have a successful career in the NBA. 
 
Mason III will remind Kings fans of Isaiah Thomas, another undersized point guard that fell to the second round. The Kansas star posted 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds for the Jayhawks last season. He’s a hard-nosed leader that can jump out of the gym and will instantly become a fan favorite in Sacramento. 
 
It’s a huge haul. Sacramento added two points guards, a wing and a big from some of the best basketball schools in the country. More than that, they added high character winners to a changing culture. 
 
For the first time in a while, the Sacramento Kings have accumulated assets. They have hit the ground running in their attempted rebuild and for one night, they are the talk of the NBA.

Kings select PG Frank Mason III No. 34 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft

Kings select PG Frank Mason III No. 34 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft

With the No. 34 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Kings selected the 2016-17 Player of the Year in point gaurd Frank Mason III.

Mason averaged 20.9 points and 5.2 assists per game as a senior at Kansas. 

The Kings wrapped up the 2017 NBA Draft with point guard De'Aaron Fox at No. 5, small forward Justin Jackson at No. 15, power forward Harry Giles at No. 20 and Mason at No. 34.