The Portland Trail Blazers rejoin their homestand after a brief, unmemorable journey to San Francisco.
The Blazers added another loss to growing pile of Ls, going down to defeat against the Golden State Warriors by the score of 126-106. One win out of the last ten for Portland should help set some expectations as they close out 2023 and trudge ever closer to the trade deadline.
The Sacramento Kings meanwhile find themselves in fourth place in the West, and their fans are looking at the teams ahead of them while sparing nary a thought for those behind them. They are a very good team looking for the missing ingredients to truly content, and their trade deadline might be one of the most interesting in the NBA. Will they push their chips into the middle or will they give it another season in search of Olshey-ian internal development? Time will tell, but before we get to the trade deadline there’s a game to play against Portland, and Kings fans will expect their team to take care of business. So does Vegas, with the Kings giving 7.5 points to the Blazers as of this writing on DraftKings.
Sacramento Kings (17-11) at Portland Trail Blazers (7-21) - Tuesday, Dec. 26 - 7:00 p.m. Pacific
How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass
Trail Blazers injuries: Robert Williams III (out), Shaedon Sharpe (questionable), Deandre Ayton (questionable)
Kings injuries: Alex Len (out), Malik Monk (questionable)
Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions
The Kings look like a solid playoff team but not a contender. Do they have a realistic route to contending? I know the players will get better, but they (editor: don’t) seem to have that MVP player on the roster.
It’s a fair question. Let’s look at the NBA champions by best player for the the last 10 seasons: Jokic, Curry, Antetokounmpo, James, Leonard, Durant, Durant, James. Curry, Leonard. Not to throw any shade at our coach but the 2003-04 Pistons might be the last time the winner didn’t have a super-elite player on it. To be fair though even Billups is a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate, so if the Pistons didn’t have a super-elite player they weren’t far off. So who is that guy on the Kings? If he’s not there how do they get him... or do they need to? I certainly agree with the gist of this question; the Kings don’t appear to have that special MVP player, and because of that the odds of being a true contender are long. However, they do have two All-Stars from last season in De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. Perhaps... just perhaps... the next few seasons are the perfect time to make a run at it without that MVP-type player. It’s possible to make an argument why every team with a Jokic, Curry, Antetokounmpo, Durant or James on it will fall. Age and supporting cast matter. So while I’m not ready to make the Kings contenders quite yet, a few aggressive trades and some fortunate timely internal development could give them an avenue towards contention for the next few seasons. Not very likely that they’ll find the perfect storm mind you, but it’s possible.
Thanks for the question!
What To Watch For
- Athleticism. The Kings are a very good team, but one thing they lack is athleticism. De’Aaron Fox has it, but after that you have to look at the bench. When a conversation about improving the Kings comes up, perhaps the first thing you hear is that they have to replace Harrison Barnes with someone more athletic. Athleticism is something these Blazers have in spades while lacking in a host of other areas. If Shaedon can suit up this could be his type of game. Sacramento is likely to shoot better than the Blazers, so the Blazers need to make up for that by unleashing their athleticism.
- Shooting. Speaking of “likely to shoot better than the Blazers”. It’s not that the Kings are some elite shooting team at 47.2% from the field and 36.8% from deep (16th and 18th in the NBA respectively. It’s that the Blazers are so bad. Portland is last in the NBA from the field at 43.8% and 25th from beyond the arc at 35.2%. On any given night anything can happen, but the Blazers just have to shoot better if they want to be competitive in this or any other game.
What Others Are Saying
Elaine Blum on A Royal Pain writes about 3 Kings who aren’t living up to expectations. Davion Mitchell is one of them.
Many fans were already disappointed with Mitchell’s play last season. Few probably had on their bingo card for this season that two-way player Keon Ellis would surpass Mitchell in the rotation and take his spot, though.
Wonder what players the Kings should trade for? Miguel Carias of Last Word on Sports has you covered with three suggestions, with OG number one on the list.
If the Kings are willing to go all in ahead of this trade deadline, this is the way to go. Anunoby is essentially the perfect piece to fit with this Kings’ team. His ability as an elite defender at the wing position could immediately help Sacramento’s weakness. Anunoby made the All-Defensive Second team last season and led the league in steals with 1.9 per game. He has also improved greatly on offense. Over the last two seasons, Anunoby has shot 38% from three on close to 6 attempts per game. He’s also improved at putting the ball on the floor and finishing near the rim. His two-way versatility is remarkable and makes him a valuable asset on nearly any team. It would take a hefty trade haul, but Anunoby would be an outstanding addition to the Kings and thus should be high on their trade target list.
Coincidence or on purpose? What happens when a helicopter flies over the beam.