April 9, 2016, 2:32 pm
For Saturday’s ‘must watch’ game of the night, I’m going to make things a little different. There will be no ‘honorable mentions’ and there will be no guiding you to a game that may have playoff implications on the line. No. Today’s piece is about a city saying goodbye to a bittersweet season; goodbye to all of the great memories and hello to the future.
I’m a Sacramento local and the team I’ve grown up watching my whole life has been the Sacramento Kings. Now, I have not lived a long life at 23-years-old, but I have seen some amazing things inside Sleep Train Arena (better known as Arco).
The memories of what was known as ‘the greatest show’ on the hardwood with Jason Williams, Doug Christie, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber and Vlade Divac were some of the best times inside of the infamous building. The heartbreaking, polarizing and controversial playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2001-2002 season was something that Kings fans will never forget.
It was just two years ago when Sacramento saw their team heading toward the exit doors and we saw our long time announcers (Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds) tear-up on live television as everyone thought this team was all but gone. However, instead of admitting defeat, the residents of Sacramento rallied together behind Mayor Kevin Johnson as they fought to keep their beloved team. After today they say goodbye to the old barn and hello to the future of the new Golden 1 Center.
Now, let’s look at the tale of the tape for this matchup between the Thunder and Kings.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Sacramento Kings
Tip Time: 10:30 pm (est)
Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
Player Matchup: Kevin Durant and Rudy Gay
It has been a disappointing season for the Kings and that’s putting it gently. Entering the season, there was a feeling of change and optimism that this Kings team could finally break out of their decade-long slump of not making the playoffs. That has now been thrown away by bad coaching or bad leadership from their star player – that decision is up for you to decide, but ultimately it’s a mixture of both.
Sacramento (31-48) enters this game looking to avoid a three-game losing streak and get a win for their hometown crowd one last time. Surprisingly, the Kings have actually played well against the Thunder this season, even sneaking away with a win in OKC earlier this season. The players and the coaches know how important this game is, not necessarily for their season, but for the fans.
“This is more of a college atmosphere, college loyalty, and college love than most NBA cities,” head coach George Karl said. “Saturday will be a moment that the basketball fan will feel good about. Even me, though I’ve only been here for 15 months. It’s historically a part of my career.”
Two-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins has been a monster this season. Through 64 games, Cousins has averaged a career-high 27.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 45.4 percent from the floor. The former Kentucky Wildcat has also placed himself in the top five in scoring and rebounding this season.
After stating that Cousins would play the remaining three games at home this week, the organization collectively decided to rest Cousins on Thursday against the Timberwolves. Boogie got a technical foul against Portland on Tuesday night and one more tech would have resulted in a one-game suspension for Cousins. With the rage Cousins plays with on a nightly basis, it was probably the safer bet to make sure he was available for the final home game.
The Thunder (54-24) sit comfortably three games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers for the third seed in the Western Conference. OKC is an offensive powerhouse that can beat you in so many different ways, but with just two players. When you have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as your ‘Batman and Robin’, you know the team is going to be hard to beat.
Surprisingly, Oklahoma City enters this game on a bit of a slump going 1-4 over their last five games. However, it should be noted that the Thunder’s Big 3 of Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka were all rested on Wednesday night against the Blazers.
“My thinking on holding everyone out is just to rest our guys,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “It was a great opportunity to get some extra rest and have two days before going to Sacramento.”
(All of the stars from both teams are expected to be in uniform tonight. However, be sure to stay close to Hoop Ball for any updates before tip-off)
Westbrook has been spectacular to watch all season long and he is without a doubt my favorite point guard in the league today. He plays with a controlled aggression on both sides of the floor and is one of the few players that plays each game with the same energy as the last.
Over his last 10 games, the seven-year veteran has averaged 21.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 10.7 assists per game. Westbrook also finds himself one triple-double shy of passing Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in a single-season over the past 30 years.
“Whenever you’re mentioned in the same sentence as Magic, it’s always great,” Westbrook said. “That’s something you never take for granted.”
This game is all about living in the moment for the Kings and their fans. 30 years of memories in this building will be coming to a close but not without a bang. Former players and coaches from the past 30 years are expected to be in attendance for what is sure to be an unforgettable night.
February 16, 2020, 11:54 pmGiannis AntetokounmpoPF, Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo could not will his team to the win against Team LeBron on Sunday in what was the most competitive All-Star Game we have seen in quite some time.
Antetokounmpo scored 25 points with 11 boards on 12-of-21 shooting. He had two clutch blocks on LeBron James to keep his team alive, but ultimately Team LeBron was able to overpower Team Giannis. Antetokounmpo's value is being dragged down by free-throw shooting and turnovers, but he remains a top-30 asset nonetheless.
February 16, 2020, 11:49 pmAnthony DavisPF-C, Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis secured the win for Team LeBron on Sunday with a game-winning free throw.
Davis scored 19 points with nine boards on 9-of-16 shooting. Kyle Lowry pulled him to the ground to send him to the line with a chance to win the game and AD delivered. Davis remains the No. 1 player in 9-cat formats and should have no issue maintaining that spot.
February 16, 2020, 11:46 pmKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard won the first Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP Award with 30 points as Team LeBron beat Team Giannis 157-155 on Sunday.
Leonard came out the gate hot as he knocked down eight triples prior to the extremely competitive fourth quarter. He turned it up with some clutch steals down the stretch and helped Team LeBron secure the win. Leonard is a lock for top-10 value as we shift our focus to the second half of the season.
February 15, 2020, 10:43 pmDerrick Jones Jr.SF, Miami Heat
Derrick Jones Jr. won the Dunk Contest on Saturday in an epic showdown with Aaron Gordon.
Jones and Gordon extended the Dunk Contest into overtime and treated us to some of the best dunks in recent memory. Jones put on a spectacular performance with one 360, between-the-legs dunk that was reminiscent of Vince Carter. Gordon dunked over Tacko Fall in his final dunk and put up dunks worthy of a trophy himself. Jones earned the nickname of Airplane Mode on Saturday and is an option at the end of your bench in 14-team leagues.
February 15, 2020, 9:33 pmBuddy HieldSG, Sacramento Kings
Buddy Hield beat Devin Booker and Davis Bertans with 27 points in the final round of the 3-Point Contest on Saturday.
Hield had to hit the final shot to beat Booker by one point and take home the 2020 3-Point Contest trophy. Hield is third in made 3-pointers this season with 207. He has been on a roll lately and is a top-30 player over the past month while averaging 21.1 points and 4.5 threes per game. Hield should have a top-50 finish to the season.
February 15, 2020, 8:38 pmBam AdebayoC, Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo beat Domantas Sabonis in the final round of the Skills Challenge to take home the victory on Saturday.
Adebayo beat Spencer Dinwiddie, Pascal Siakam and Domantas Sabonis on his way to winning the 2020 Skills Challenge. Adebayo was able to showcase his talents on Saturday and has been a top-40 player in 9-cat leagues this season. He will have early-round value moving forward.
February 15, 2020, 6:08 pmEvan TurnerSG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Evan Turner is set to work out for the Clippers, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Turner is working on a buyout with the Wolves and Minnesota never had any intention of holding ET back from other work. He's only appeared in 19 games all season and would be at the end of LA's rotation, so there's minimal fantasy impact if Turner finds his way to the Clips.
Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter
February 15, 2020, 12:10 amMiles BridgesSF, Charlotte Hornets
Miles Bridges took home the MVP Award of Team USA's 151-131 win over Team World in the Rising Stars game on Friday night, scoring 20 points, grabbing five boards, dishing out five assists and chipping in three steals.
He hit some big shots, including a couple of three of three pointers (3-of-7 3PT). The MVP winner was not immediately obvious after the game and Bridges was the beneficiary of a wide open field. He is clinging to value in standard 12-team leagues and has been a little better of late, averaging 20 points and seven rebounds over the past two weeks. If you have an open roster spot, Bridges offers consistently average production if you need a space-filler.
February 15, 2020, 12:00 amCollin SextonPG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Collin Sexton played 20 minutes Friday in the Rising Stars game in Chicago, putting up 21 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Sexton was not pleased about being left off the original roster for Team USA. He got an opportunity due to Tyler Herro's injury and had a good showing Friday evening. He has been very consistent thus far, holding top-125 value on the season and ranks in the top-75 over the past two months. Keep running him out there.
February 14, 2020, 11:49 pmBrandon ClarkePF, Memphis Grizzlies
Brandon Clarke was in the starting lineup for Team World in the Rising Stars game Friday night and put up 22 points on 11-of-15 FG and added eight rebounds.
Clarke has the best shooting percentage out of all NBA rookies this season, sitting at a cool 62.3% from the floor. He didn't let up Friday, only missing four of his 15 shots. Clarke has sneakily almost cracked the top-75 in standard leagues this season and needs to be owned across the board. The Grizzlies are surprising everybody and currently hold a spot in the playoffs, so Clarke should maintain his value.