Kings should start the “young guns” again tonight in D.C.

by Charlie O. Mallonee

wiz beal drives on hield
Bradley Beal drives on Buddy Hield Photo USA Today Sports

The Kings and Wizards met in Sacramento on October 29th. Washington opened the game by going on a 13-0 run and the Wizards never trailed in the game as they went on to win 110-83.

The Kings went with a “youth movement” lineup of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox. That may well be the starting lineup next season or two years from now, but it might be a bit premature to expect those five to carry the load of being the starting five right now.

In his postgame comments, Dave Joerger talked about his young players giving up 10 to 30 pounds and 5-7 years of experience to the starters for the Wizards. Enthusiasm and talent usually cannot overcome talent, size and experience.

Joerger also explained that his young starting five became “shell shocked”  and a bit disoriented after they fell behind by 13 points in less than five minutes to the Wizards.

What should the Kings do tonight?

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In my opinion, Dave Joerger should run the same starting five he used versus the Wizards in Sacramento out on the floor to open the game on Monday night in Washington. My theory is based on learning to ride a bike. The first few times you attempt to ride you fall down. If you stop, you will never learn to ride. If you keep trying, you learn how to ride the bike with confidence.

Bogdanovic, Labissiere, Cauley-Stein, Hield and Fox need to get back up on “the bike” and face the Wizards from the start of the game to show themselves that they can compete with an experienced team. Even if they only play the opening five minutes, showing they can compete with the Wizards could be a real confidence builder for the young guns.

It’s all about player development

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The Kings as an organization have not made it a secret that this season is all about player development. When you have team full of young players, that has to be your commitment, but that approach can also demoralize your fan base who only understand wins and loses.

I have said before that the Kings need to go the wins at home and play for development on the road. If a game becomes a runaway on the road, the home team’s crowd will go wild as their stars go into “showtime” mode or the second unit has a chance to come out and make big plays. In the meantime, the Kings can work on developing players.

Handling the development in that manner might not thrill the television and radio people, but it would be considerably easier on the fans.

Big key for the Kings versus the Wizards – Start Fast!

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The Kings cannot afford to let Washington go on an opening run like they did in Sacramento. The Wizards simply shoot to well in the paint, from mid-range and beyond the arc to let them grab a quick lead.

It is going to be an uphill battle for the Kings. FiveThirtyEight.com gives Sacramento only a 15-percent chance of beating the Wizards and makes them a 10.5-point underdog for the game. That is not good news for a team that is 1-6 on the road.

This will be the final time the Kings will see the the Wizards this season.

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