Preview: Kings open up 2023-24 regular season vs. Jazz
Oct 25, 2023, 7:36 AM | Updated: 7:37 am
(Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)
That’s how long it’s been since the Sacramento Kings’ storybook season ended in Game 7 of the NBA Playoffs in late April at the hands of Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
Nearly six months later, Sacramento is back for another season as the Kings open up the 2023-24 campaign against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Wednesday night’s head-to-head matchup between these two teams marks the start of an 82-game marathon, and the expectations have changed–drastically–for the ‘Beam Team.’ Following last season’s thrilling run that resulted in the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 2006, the Kings will have a more treacherous path to repeating as Pacific Division champions.
It’s important not to look too far ahead, and Sacramento head coach Mike Brown doesn’t–he views the 82-game schedule in five-game increments. Anything less than three out of five is a disappointment for the reigning NBA Coach of the Year, and tonight in Utah marks the start of that first five-game set.
How will the Kings respond to a 1-4 preseason? Last year, Sacramento opened up their schedule with a four-game losing streak. Can they knock their first win out before heading home for a massive showdown with the Golden State Warriors on Friday?
Sacramento Kings @ Utah Jazz Game Info
When: 6:00 PM PST
Where: Delta Center– Salt Lake City, UT
TV: NBC Sports California
Radio: Sactown Sports 1140 AM – Coverage starts at 4:30 PM on Game Night
Line: Kings -1.5, O/U 236
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 6:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Salt Lake City.
Will the defense be a better product?
As great as Sacramento’s record-setting offense was in 2022-23, there was a lot left to be desired on the defensive end.
Brown has constantly preached defensive intensity and physicality during training camp and preseason, and the head coach further emphasized the importance of improving a team defense that finished 25th in defensive rating last year.
“Every time we practice, every time we have shootaround, it’s my job to evaluate the team,” Brown told reporters on Monday. “I told the group there. I said, ‘I know, for sure, I’m not going to sit back and watch us play the same way we played defensively without making changes.
“Our team, from top to bottom, has to understand that we’ve got to defend,” he continued. “And we will not finish 25th or 26th defensively as a team.”
Wednesday’s game will give us our first look at the Kings’ increased emphasis on the defensive end, and Sacramento will have their hands full when they face a Jazz team that boasted the ninth-best offensive rating in the NBA last season.
▪️ D. Fox: 25.5 PTS
▪️ Kings wins: 44.5
▪️ Kings All-Stars: 0.5
▪️ K. Murray: 15.5 PTS
▪️ HB: 0.5 technical fouls
▪️ More! ⬇️https://t.co/avRYigyMSJ
— Frankie Cartoscelli (@FCartoscelli3) October 24, 2023
Kevin Huerter gets the starting nod
Brown has been very tight-lipped when asked who will start at the shooting guard spot on Wednesday.
Following weeks of uncertainty as Brown tinkered with different starting lineups, Brown confirmed on Tuesday that Kevin Huerter will start against Utah.
While Huerter will be back in the familiar setting of a starting lineup alongside De’Aaron Fox, Keegan Murray, Harrison Barnes, and Domantas Sabonis, Brown did not commit to Huerter holding a permanent spot in the starting lineup going forward, adding that it’s going to depend on how players perform on the defensive end when it comes to being a part of the first five.
“It can be anybody,” Brown said on Tuesday. “In Golden State, it was Andre Iguodala. When I was in Cleveland way back in the day, [Eric Snow] wasn’t even starting for us. It can be anybody at any time.”
Huerter’s ability to knock down triples and connect with Domantas Sabonis for dribble-hand-offs is a huge part of what made Sacramento’s offense lethal last season, but ‘Red Velvet’ is going to have to prove that he can keep his defensive assignments at bay, or else Brown could call on Chris Duarte or Colby Jones to take minutes from the guard.
Keep An Eye On…
- Utah was a top-five rebounding team in 2022-23, while Sacramento finished 20th in team rebounds. Can Sabonis keep Jazz center Walker Kessler in check on Wednesday?
- With Trey Lyles (calf) ruled out, Sasha Vezenkov will likely make his NBA debut in Utah at the backup power forward spot. Vezenkov looked shaky at times during preseason, but the Kings could use his offensive punch off the bench.
- Colby Jones turned heads during preseason, enough for Mike Brown to tell the media that it was going to be hard to keep the rookie on the bench. Can Jones take over the role that Terence Davis left behind and play 7-10 minutes?
Chris Duarte (left knee) was a full participant in today’s practice, and they’re optimistic about his availability tomorrow.
Trey Lyes (left calf) was not a full participant, he will be OUT.
Sacramento’s opener is tomorrow in Utah. pic.twitter.com/6pqunRmtvG
— Brenden Nunes (@BrendenNunesNBA) October 24, 2023
- Chris Duarte – QUESTIONABLE (left knee soreness)
- Trey Lyles – OUT (left calf strain)
Duarte fully participated in Tuesday’s practice and is trending in a positive direction for Wednesday’s season opener, per a league source. Lyles is considered day-to-day with a calf strain.
- No players listed
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