The Kings are officially rebuilding.
But now they’re moving on to the future, building around the young players they have like Buddy Hield, Skal Labissiere, and Willie Cauley-Stein.
The Kings also defeated the LA Clippers on Sunday (thank you, from the bottom of my heart) 98-97, where Willie Trill had a game-high 14 rebounds. A good sign for the future, sure, but not a good sign if they want to keep their pick in this year’s draft.
The Grizzlies, however, are coming off of a 12 point loss on the road to the Golden State Warriors. Memphis sat Marc Gasol because of a left foot strain, but the Grizzlies made sure the game was competitive. That is, until the Warriors blew it open in the 4th, outscoring the Grizzlies 23-13 in the final frame.
Tonight, the two teams meet up in Sacramento. A game where the Kings most likely need to lose and the Grizzlies need to win. If this season has taught us anything, this game will go to the wire.
To help us preview this game from Sacramento’s point of view, we bring in the great Associate Editor of Sactown Royalty, (NBA blog royalty too, to be honest), Greg.
Here is what he thought about the Kings’ season, future, and of course, former Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger. Because you always want to know how your ex is doing.
What’s been the biggest difference, positive or negative, you've seen from the Kings since the DeMarcus Cousins trade?
Greg: Cousins was such a huge part of what the Kings did on both ends of the floor, both good and bad, that it's completely reshaped the roster. The team is worse, but not by all that much. We now have young talent that plays hard and is fun to root for, but still tends to lose a lot.
Skal Labissiere had a tumultuous year at Kentucky in his only year. He was expected to be a top prospect, but a poor year caused him to fall to 28th to the Kings. Since the trade, he's been playing more and putting up numbers, but how do you feel about him going forward?
G: Skal Labissiere is on track to be the steal of the draft, and that isn't just hyperbole. He was misused in college, but has been brought along slowly by the Kings. As he's earned more minutes, he's flourishing. He has an excellent touch around the basket, can finish with both hands, has a nose for blocks, and is able to hit an outside jumper. He's far more polished than advertised. He just needs to continue to add strength. Kings fans are thrilled with him.
The first year in Sacramento is almost over for former Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger, how would you say he’s fared as a King?
G: He's been a mixed bag. Before the Boogie trade he had a lot of issues like he had in Memphis. Baffling rotations, and an infatuation with Matt Barnes that made Kings fans cringe.
But since the trade he's been good. He doesn't automatically give minutes to rookies, but he's played the young guys plenty and increased their minutes as they've shown growth on the floor. Overall I've been pleased.
The season series is currently 2-1 in favor of Memphis. How do the Kings tie it up with a win tonight?
G: Ummm, how many guys are the Grizzlies going to rest? Memphis should win easily just based on talent. If the Kings win it's because Buddy Hield goes off from deep and Skal and Willie Cauley-Stein use their length and athleticism inside.
The Sacramento Kings have taken some lumps, to put it mildly, in the media. But not all seasons are completely lost. What’s been the biggest positive you’ve taken from the Kings this season?
G: Honestly, it's nice to know what the plan is. For so long the Kings were trying short-term fixes to put a team around Cousins. When those failed, they'd repeat that process. It was painful. I still root for Cousins, but he and the Kings were unlikely to succeed together. It's nice that the Kings finally made a move and have a new direction.