The Wait Is Over: Kings Face Suns In 2019-20 Season Opener Tonight
With new faces and high hopes, Sacramento looks to snap 13-season playoff drought
The best time of the year has arrived.
After six long off-season months, the Sacramento Kings will begin their quest for a playoff berth tonight in Phoenix when they play their season opener against Devin Booker and the Suns.
Last season, the Kings turned heads around the league when they jumped out to a surprising 15-12 start and hung around the playoff race into the later months of the season. Sacramento finished just outside of the playoff picture in 9th place with a 39-43 record, their best finish since 2005-06. Led by a breakout season from De’Aaron Fox, the Kings ranked among the top teams in scoring last season with 114.2 points per game — good enough for ninth in all of the NBA.
Fox, 21, put the league on notice in his sophomore season with averages of 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game. The sophomore guard had the eighth-highest assists per game average in the league and ranked ninth in steals per game with 1.6 swipes per contest.
In the back-court with the speedy Fox will be Buddy Hield, who just inked a four-year extension that will see him in Sacramento through the 2023-24 season. Last season, Hield put on a shooting clinic as he drilled the seventh-most three’s over one season in the league’s history (278).
The 26 year-old led the Kings in scoring with 20.7 points per game while shooting an incredibly efficient 42-percent from beyond the three-point line. Hield was also an above-average rebounder last season as he snagged five boards a game, good enough to place him among the top-five in rebounds on last year’s team.
While the Kings guards will look to capitalize on their 2018-19 campaigns, the player with the best chance to breakout this season will be Marvin Bagley III.
The second pick in last year’s NBA Draft, Bagley had a productive rookie season that saw him earn First Team All-Rookie honors to go along with a selection to the Rising Stars Game. The 20 year-old averaged 14.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and one block per game for the Kings last season over 25.3 minutes per game. With an expanded role this season, expect those numbers to inflate in 2019-20.
Head Coach Luke Walton has moved Bagley into the starting unit this season, a move that could pay off quickly for a Kings team that has lacked an explosive presence in the post for several years. In four starts last season, the young forward averaged 20.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
It will be interesting to see how the Sacramento rotation works without one of it’s promising core pieces. Second-year big man Harry Giles III will miss the first game of the regular season as he rehabs a nagging knee injury, opening the door for newly signed forward Richuan Holmes.
Holmes, 26, stole the show over the course of the preseason with averages of 8.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and one block per game. Known for his high-energy, Holmes played extremely well in the paint and around the basket as he shot an eye-popping 82-percent from the field (14-for-17) over four games. With no timetable for Giles return, Holmes finds himself in position to play valuable minutes with the Sacramento second unit.
It all begins tonight, and you can catch all of the action right here on Sports 1140 KHTK with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30pm with tip-off following at 7:00pm.
- Sacramento has lost four of their last five opening night contests. The last win was the 2016-17 season opener– also in Phoenix.
- Since the 2014-15 season, the Kings are 13-7 against the Suns. Last season, Sacramento took three-of-four contests against their Pacific Division foe.