De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis preview their season opener in Utah

Oct 24, 2023, 2:38 PM | Updated: 3:21 pm

Brandin Podziemski #2 of the Golden State Warriors dribbling the ball is closely guarded by De'Aaro...

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Brandin Podziemski #2 of the Golden State Warriors dribbling the ball is closely guarded by De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA game at Golden 1 Center on October 15, 2023 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Following Tuesday’s practice, Sacramento Kings’ All-Stars from last season, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, spoke with the media about the team’s progress throughout the preseason, where they’re at heading into their 2023-24 opener on the road against the Utah Jazz, and more.

Internal expectations are high for the Kings after their third-seeded finish a season ago, but it all seems to teeter on how much they can improve as a unit defensively. Some notable changes took place for other Western Conference teams, but Sacramento still believes they can compete with the cream of the crop.

“We know that teams have gotten better, the West continues to be tough,” De’Aaron Fox said. “But, at the end of the day, we worry about ourselves. We go out there, we play our game. We know that if we’re better defensively, then we can play with anybody, and we can compete for a championship.”

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Fox is often referred to as the head of the snake for Sacramento on both ends of the floor, and he’s hoping to become “one of the better two-way players in the league” this season. His ball pressure in the preseason has been encouraging, but consistency will be essential. Players with significant responsibility on one end of the floor often struggle to match that level on the other side of the ball. Still, De’Aaron Fox is embracing that challenge.

“Offensively, I feel like I can get whatever I want. And defensively, I feel like I’ve shown at times that I’m really able to lockdown,” he said. “So, for me, it’s just trying to be able to do that for as long as I can. Be one of those players that at the end of the game, it doesn’t matter if we need a stop or if we need a score. I want to be that go-to guy to either have the ball or defend the ball.”

While Utah projects as one of the lower teams in the conference, they surprised people last year and have a talented roster led by head coach Will Hardy. Fox will get a chance to showcase his progressing defense and mindset with Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, and rookie Keyonte George. Meanwhile, Sabonis is expected to match up against a stellar rim protector in Walker Kessler.

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“They’re a very tough team, a lot of length, a lot of talent, and it’s going to be a tough game,” Sabonis said Tuesday afternoon. “Last year, they played a lot of zone, mixed things up, played a different game, so we’ve got to be prepared for anything tomorrow.”

Everyone seems ready to play meaningful games against league-wide competition after weeks of beating each other up in practices. We will see if the defensive focus, specifically the physicality, is on display in game one of Sacramento’s 2023-24 season on Wednesday.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Jazz coverage, beginning at 4:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 6 p.m. PST tip-off from downtown Salt Lake City.

Sacramento Kings 2023-24 Regular Season Schedule

  • Wednesday, October 25th – Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz – 6 PM PST (Season Opener)
  • Friday, October 27th – Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST (Home Opener)
  • Sunday, October 29th – Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 6 PM PST
  • Wednesday, November 1st – Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors – 7 PM PST
  • Saturday, November 4th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST
  • Monday, November 6th – Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets – 5 PM PST

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