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Five Questions for Grizzlies-Kings

Sactown Royalty — the Kings’ SBNation site — chimes in ahead of Thursday’s game.

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

After an impressive win against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, the Memphis Grizzlies make their first trip to the West coast to take on De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings. Memphis enters the contest with a 3-1 record, while Sacramento has yet to notch a win this season.

The last time the Grizzlies lost in Sacramento was February 20, 2020. In fact, California was a second home for Memphis last year. Against the Kings, Lakers, Clippers and Warriors, the Grizzlies had a combined record of 6-2. The Grizzlies have won their last six matchups against the Kings. Last season, the teams played three times with Memphis winning all three by an average margin of 23.7 points.

The Kings have had a tough road, so far. Their losses have come from the Clippers, Trailblazers and Warriors and three of their games have been decided by single digits. Memphis can not overlook Sacramento or they may move to 1-2 on the road this year. To learn more about the Kings I reached out to Jordan White, a writer for Sactown Royalty — the Kings’ SBNation site.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Through three games, De’Aaron Fox has averaged 31.7 points, 7.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds on 59.4 FG% and 45% from 3PT. Despite Fox’s strong play, the Kings are winless. What needs to change so Sacramento can get its first win of the year?

De’Aaron Fox has been exceptional to start the season. Over the last couple of years, he’s typically come out slow and had to get into a rhythm after some time. This year he’s come out on fire and seems to have even added a legitimate three-point shot to his arsenal. The most surprising aspect of his game though has been his tenacity and activity on defense compared to past seasons.

However, the team hasn’t been able to capitalize on the solid play of their leader. Two big reasons that have led to them not being able to capture their first victory are defense and free throws. The team has not played well defensively in transition and has been giving up a ludicrous amount of points in the paint. The Kings are also one of the worst free-throw-shooting teams in the league, currently shooting 68.6% from the stripe. If you look at their first two losses — both very close games — they could have been won by just a few made free throws.

After lighting up Summer League, Keegan Murray made his NBA debut against the Clippers on Saturday. What has stood out to you through his first two career NBA games and what are your expectations for Murray as his rookie year progresses?

What has stood out to me the most about Keegan Murray so far is his demeanor on the court. It’s very common and honestly expected for rookies to make mistakes and try to do too much on the court when they first enter the league. Murray simply looks like a professional and has played both smart and efficiently on both sides of the ball. I expect him to be a starter very soon, possibly against Memphis, and thrust himself right to the top of the RoTY leaderboards.

Memphis is yet to play Sacramento with Domantas Sabonis whom they acquired at last year’s trade deadline. This year, the former All-Star is off to a bit of a slow start. What are your expectations for Sabonis tonight?

I expect Domantas Sabonis to snap back into his normal self tonight against Memphis after the team’s four-day break. He has not played well at all and after having some time to reflect, this will be the game he finally shows up to play. Sabonis played quite a bit of Euro ball this Summer and from the looks of it, that may have affected him negatively for NBA play. Once he is back to his old self, the King’s already potent offense will become even more dynamic with increased ball movement and inside scoring.

The one thing about Sabonis’ game that really troubles me though is his lackluster ability to defend the paint. He has become a liability and the weakest part of the Kings’ already struggling defense. However, I expect him to step it up. He is a veteran and a former All-Star.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond Bane has had tremendous success against the Kings in the past. Bane averaged 23.3 points on 57.4% shooting and 66.7% from beyond the arc against Sacramento last year. How will the Kings prepare to stop Bane tonight?

Even though their defense still isn’t what it needs to be, the Kings are much more active on that side of the ball this season. Fox is playing much better, Davion Mitchell is gonna do his thing and the additions of Kevin Huerter, KZ Okpala and Murray add some much-needed length and talent on the wing defensively. Bane is a very impressive player and can shoot the lights out on any given night. However, this will be the best Kings’ defense he has faced. The Kings are going to use their length to their advantage and be more effective when closing out on Bane and fighting around screens. In short, he will simply have to work harder to get a good look than he has in the past against this team with its new personnel.

Unlike Memphis, the Kings were active over the offseason. They picked up Malik Monk in free agency and traded for Kevin Huerter. Who do you see making a more significant impact against the Grizzlies, tonight?

Between Huerter and Monk, I definitely see Huerter having more of an impact against the Grizzlies. He has played extremely well to start the season, minus one bad shooting performance against the Warriors. The difference between Huerter and Monk is that even though both can be a nightmare to guard at times, Huerter is a better all-around player. He’s a better defender and a better rebounder and his height/length gives him more versatility to go against different positions on the floor. If a team can stop Monk from scoring, he’s effectively out of the game. But with Huerter, he can shoot poorly and still give you problems in other ways. There’s a reason he was named the starter.


To read the other half of this Q&A and see what I told Jordan about tonight’s matchup, go to sactownroyalty.com.

Thank you, Jordan for participating in today’s Five Questions with the Opponent. Make sure to follow Jordan on Twitter (@jordan_white13), along with Sactown Royalty (@sactownroyalty), for the best Kings coverage.

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