• The Kings return home to Sacramento to begin a six-game homestand, starting with Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons.

    The Kings will be without one of their top players in Bogdan Bogdanovic who’s dealing with hamstring soreness. Bogdanovic has struggled a bit of late, shooting just 30 percent from the field in his last seven games. Teams has begun to gameplan for Bogdanovic and his offensive expertise. This isn’t a new element for him as this was often the case when representing Serbia or playing in the Euroleague, but with some of the best defenders in the world in front of him it certainly makes his life more difficult.

    It’s only Bogdanovic’s first year in the NBA and running into a cold spell like this was somewhat expected. The more reps he gets will only help him overcome those struggles and figuring out ways to counter the defense thrown at him.

    His absence could open up more playing time for Buddy Hield who’s been playing exceptionally well of late. Over his last three games he’s averaging 23.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 4.0 3-pointers per game on 56.7 percent shooting from the field. Hield was instrumental in getting Sacramento across the line against Miami and Golden State, and was unlucky not to do the same against Utah on Saturday.

    The Kings have found success when Hield plays frequently, per Sactown Royalty’s Tony Xypteras.

    Hield’s almost certainly headed for 30-plus minutes tonight which bodes well for Sacramento’s chances against a struggling Pistons team.

    The Pistons have lost three straight and are 2-8 in their last 10 games. They’re also just 9-25 on the road which is tied for sixth worst in the league. Detroit took a major gamble trading for Blake Griffin and initially it looked as though it may work out, but a lack of depth and supporting cast has held them back. They now sit 6.5 games out of eighth and are going to struggle to sneak into the playoffs.

    A frontline of Andre Drummond and Griffin will be tough to handle for the Kings, though. Dave Joerger would be wise to fade Zach Randolph as much as he can as Griffin will easily be able to exploit him defensively. Containing Drummond on the glass will be a tough task, as it is for any team, but plugging someone like Kosta Koufos in at center could help nullify that.

    The Kings are coming on strong as the season nears a conclusion. It’s promising to see the youngsters turn it on and play well, but the draft lottery crowd are hoping for as many losses as possible. Winning is better for the development of the team in general. The Kings should still secure a top-10 pick and will have a nice selection of youth to choose from either way.

    Sacramento have some winnable games coming up, especially considering they’re at home for their next six, so it’s a good opportunity to continue that upward trend.

    PROJECTED STARTERS

    PG – De’Aaron Fox
    SG – Garrett Temple
    SF – Justin Jackson
    PF – Zach Randolph
    C – Willie Cauley-Stein

    INJURY REPORT

    Iman Shumpert (knee) – OUT
    Bogdan Bogdanovic (hamstring) – OUT

    HOW TO WATCH

    When: 7:00 p.m. PST (10:00 ET)
    Where: NBCS California

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