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Preseason Game Preview: What to watch in Phoenix Suns at Sacramento Kings

The Suns tip off another season with a friendly in Sac Town.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns at Sacramento Kings, game one of preseason

When: 7:00 PM AZ time

Where: In Sac town

Watch: N/A

Listen: 98.7 FM


What?! The Phoenix Suns are already kicking off another season? Didn’t they just finish the last season, like, a few weeks ago? Yes, to both questions.

Tonight, the Suns embark on a new basketball season with a preseason warmup game in Sacramento against the Kings.

As usual, road preseason games are not readily available to watch on television, so you’ll just have to follow along with the radio coverage and/or on your phones. The Kings are live-streaming the game on kings.com to folks within 75 miles of the stadium, but that’s all I can find.

What’s new with the Kings

Not a lot. Same coach (Luke Walton), same basic starting lineup. Are they potentially good, despite finishing 31-41 for the second straight year under Walton? They could be, with better coaching and scheme.

You won’t see much of the Kings veterans tonight, I’d guess. Holmes, Thompson, Len, Barnes, Harkless and Hield are all veterans unlikely to get more than a short stint in this game to get a sweat on. Even De’Aaron Fox might only get 20 minutes. It’s preseason after all.

I’m guessing we will see a lot of rookie Davion Mitchell, a 6’2” guard who defends like crazy and has a bit of offensive juice. It remains to be seen how he fits in a lineup with other small-to-medium sized guards throughout the season, but this is preseason and Mitchell will likely get a lot of run.

Mitchell might be one of the rotation point guards, but will have to wait his turn after De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton take their turns. Hali will flop back and forth between backing up Fox and backing up Buddy Hield.

On the front line, forward Chimezie Metu, formerly of USC and a rookie last year, will also see time as will former No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 Draft Marvin Bagley III who is finally healthy again.

The Kings depth chart, according to the KingsHerald.com lads, looks like this:

  • PG - De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell
  • SG - Buddy Hield (?), Tyrese Haliburton (?), Terence Davis
  • SF - Harrison Barnes, Maurice Harkless, Louis King
  • PF - Marvin Bagley III, Chimezie Metu (?), Tristan Thompson (?)
  • C - Richaun Holmes, Alex Len, Tristan Thompson

Boy am I glad the Suns are no longer on any kind of playoff drought! The Kings are hoping for a playoff run this year to break their 15-year streak of missing the Big Dance. They have a better chance than usual, with the 7th-10th teams in the West now eligible for the winorgohome play-in tournament that knocked out the Warriors last May.

After De’Aaron Fox, who is the Kings second-best player? Is it Haliburton already? Or is it Richaun Holmes? Or is it someone like Hield or Barnes?

Poll

Who is the Kings second-best player?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Tyrese Haliburton
    (122 votes)
  • 36%
    Buddy Hield
    (107 votes)
  • 13%
    Richaun Holmes
    (40 votes)
  • 7%
    Harrison Barnes
    (23 votes)
292 votes total Vote Now

What’s new with the Suns?

The Suns ran it back, like the Kings did. Except the Suns ran it back with a much better team: an NBA Finals core than includes three starters not even yet hitting their primes.

I’m not sure what we will see (or read about) in tonight’s game as far as playing time goes. Monty Williams won’t want to tax them too much, especially with a short offseason.

You definitely will NOT see Devin Booker, who’s already been ruled out of tonight’s game because he just re-joined the team on Friday after a bout with COVID.

You probably also won’t see much or any of Chris Paul (age 36) and Jae Crowder (age 31), who sat out two of last year’s three preseason games.

I’m guessing we won’t see much more than 20 minutes from either of Deandre Ayton or Mikal Bridges, simply because there’s more value in rest than work in this game.

Who WILL you see a lot of?

I’m guessing we might see 35 minutes from Jalen Smith, who is trying to prove his value in the NBA after a lost rookie season.

“My first year my head was spinning,” Smith says. “This year is a lot more easy, more fun.”

The Suns gave Smith the most minutes any team gave any player in Summer League, where he responded by leading the summer league in rebounds (among all players) and three-point attempts (among big men). I’m sure we will see or read about all the minutes from Smith.

“Summer League was using a lot of the (Suns) plays,” Smith says. “It’s pretty much similar (but a lot more complex, at the NBA level).”

We will also likely see/read about big minutes from newcomers Elfrid Payton (3rd string point guard), Landry Shamet (2nd string shooting guard), Chasson Randle (4th string point guard), and Chandler Hutchison (3rd or 4th string small forward) so the coaching staff can see how they’re picking up the playbook. JaVale McGee is too much of a vet to get big preseason run.

Big time matchup

Too bad we can’t witness on TV the matchup of Jalen Smith vs. Marvin Bagley III. Neither player has proven much yet, and both will want to start laying hard wood on the floor of their NBA careers.

Prediction

Please don’t care what the final score is.

Watch for Jalen Smith’s shooting efficiency and overall impact, and hope for Landry Shamet to make a bunch of his shots too.

What are you guys and gals watching/wanting to see happen?