photo from sacbee.com: Sacramento Kings forward Marvin Bagley III (35) blocks a shot against the Dallas Mavericks forward Maximilian Kleber (42) on March 21, 2019 in this Sac Bee file photo.
By London Marq
SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento Kings exist in an awkward space within the NBA right now. After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, their young core is hoping to make stride forward and become a better team.
The only problem — the Western Conference is vastly improved — meaning that if the Kings hope to be playoff relevant, they will have to prove they are much better than they were six months ago. Through the first two games of the preseason, the Kings are 0-2.
On the surface, it may seem like a bad omen but there are factors to consider. Those first two games were played a world away in India so it’s hard to judge the effectiveness of the team playing with so many travel miles behind them. They are also under direction from new head coach Luke Walton, so the team may be finding ways to acclimate themselves to the new strategies being implemented. All in all, the two losses are no reason to panic.
On Thursday night, the Kings welcomed the Phoenix Suns into the Golden 1 Center for their first home preseason game. Behind some excellent defense and 18 points from De’Aaron Fox the Kings would walk away with the win, 105-88.
Defense has to be a point of emphasis for Sacramento if they hope to compete for a playoff spot in the west. If tonight was any indication of the Kings’ focus on defense, then it bodes well.
Sacramento held the Suns to just 16 points in the first quarter and 18 in the fourth while outscoring their opponents in threw of the four frames. Last year, the offense was one of the most potent in the league and the Kings were one of the most exciting teams to watch.
If they can match that with consistent effort on defense, they will compete. While one preseason win is nothing to write home about, the Kings should be using this time to gel as a unit and acclimate themselves to their new coach while playing at full speed. The Kings will face a challenge in their final preseason match versus the Utah Jazz. The regular season is just around the bend, and the Kings will have a lot to prove if they want to be considered as a contender.
London Marq is a Sacramento Kings beat writer for http://www.sportsradioservice.com