• The Kings’ misery continued on Monday night as they fell 112-107 to the Hornets for their eighth consecutive loss. Bringing their record to 2-13 in their last 15 outings.

    Sacramento rolled out an interesting starting lineup tonight, going with De’Aaron Fox, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Vince Carter, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos and they managed to hold their own early on.

    Things were a little erratic at times to start the game with both teams feeling each other out, trying to gain an edge. The Hornets dropped 131 points on the Kings in the first meeting thanks to some hot shooting from outside (15-of-32 for 46.9 percent). The Kings didn’t seem too worried about defending the perimeter early on as the Hornets got multiple open looks but fortunately for them they weren’t dropping – at least initially. This tactic would come back to bite the Kings.

    Dave Joerger first went to the bench with just under five minutes left in the quarter. At that point Sacramento held a 21-18 lead so the starters more than held their own. The bench, unfortunately, let that lead slip and trailed 35-33 after the first quarter.

    The Kings failed to adjust to all the open looks the Hornets were getting on the perimeter, as they let them go off for six 3-pointers on just 13 attempts in the first quarter alone. This is a team that averages 9.1 3-pointers per game, yet the Kings have a frustrating habit of letting them rain shots from outside.

    Defensive stops were at a premium for both teams through the first 24 minutes. Both seemingly had open looks every time down the floor and it was just a case of who could capitalize. Unfortunately for the Kings, they were the ones that slowed down offensively and struggled to make shots consistently as halftime neared.

    The Hornets’ 3-point barrage didn’t hold up as they ended with 10 threes at the half and held a 67-55 lead. The defensive issues are well-known in Sacramento, but letting a team surpass their season-average in the first half alone isn’t great at all. The team is loaded with youth which could contribute to those struggles, but all it takes is some consistent effort and energy to nullify those flaws.

    Sacramento kept things steady in the third, not letting the game blow open. The fact that they didn’t roll over is a small positive in an otherwise rough outing. This could have easily ended in the same way the earlier meeting did.

    The defensive issues started to take a toll on Joerger tonight. At one point during the fourth quarter he called a timeout after the Hornets had multiple open looks. Following the timeout, the Kings looked to shift into another gear cutting the lead down to 102-105 with under two minutes left.

    Whatever Joerger said to them during the timeout lit a fire underneath the Kings. They displayed a defensive intensity in the fourth quarter that they hadn’t shown in a while. They were contesting shots, playing tight defense on the perimeter and just genuinely showing some energy. Putting forth this hustle on a consistent basis is the next step for this team.

    Tonight’s game was far from pleasant but they gave themselves a shot down the stretch and I’m sure they’ll go away proud of the late effort. If they can display this kind of energy on a nightly basis, throughout the entirety of the game, then they’ll find themselves competing more frequently and it could lead to some wins.

    Their late charge wasn’t quite enough in the end, as the Hornets managed to knuckle down and hold on. The Hornets took the season series 2-0.

    Game Notes

    • Zach Randolph and Garrett Temple were the two veterans that sat out tonight. The rotational method continues and at some stage we may start to see a pattern with who’s playing and who’s not. This is a system that’s likely to remain in place for the remainder of the season so it’s something fans will have to get used to.
    • As mentioned earlier, the Kings have lost 13 of their last 15 games. Things aren’t pretty at the moment but coming into the season, lots of losses were expected. For the draft crowd, losing is the best thing for the Kings as far as draft position is concerned. Developing the youth will obviously be the focal point moving forward so more losses are on the horizon for Sacramento.
    • Dwight Howard certainly made his mark on the game. He was controlling the paint and was consistently making the Kings’ players alter their shots in the paint – most of the time leading to misses. Even on shots that were seemingly going in, Howard would go out his way to swat it and take the goaltending call, just so the Kings weren’t seeing the ball go through the hoop. It’s something he’s done throughout his career, but it proved effective against the youthful lineup of Sacramento.
    • The Hornets managed a season-high 15 3-pointers in the previous meeting with the Kings and, unsurprisingly, they surpassed that total tonight with 16. We’ve touched on the defensive issues already so it’s probably no use going down that path again. The fourth quarter was a positive step in the right direction for the Kings.
    • Skal Labissiere scored a season-high 23 points tonight on 10-of-15 shooting. He came in and went to work straight away in the first quarter and didn’t slow down as the night progressed. It’s a promising performance from the youngster who has struggled over his last couple of outings.
    • Willie Cauley-Stein struggled big time shooting just 5-of-20 from the field. He had trouble with Howard’s defensive prowess and will be happy he doesn’t have to see him again this season. He did finish with 11 points, 10 rebounds and two steals so it wasn’t all bad.
    • De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield had solid games. Fox turned in 16 points and seven assists while Hield finished with 18 points on 4-of-6 shooting from deep. The kids had their moments throughout the game but on the whole they had positive nights and it will help with their development moving forward.
    • Another positive note is that the Kings posted a 27-to-9 assist-to-turnover ratio which is superb. If they can fine-tune their defensive issues, the Kings could find themselves competing a little more frequently down the road.

    The Kings will be back in action tomorrow night against the Magic. It’s a quick turnaround, especially considering it’s in the middle of a six-game road trip, so things won’t be easy for the Kings. The Magic sit at 14th in the Eastern Conference so they have something in common with Sacramento as far as bottom dwellers are concerned.

    The Magic have lost a ton of games, but they’ve actually found a bit of a groove lately winning two of their last three. They’ve topped the Wolves and Celtics, as well as taking the Cavs down to the wire. Those three are all highly ranked teams who are headed for the playoffs so the Magic are on somewhat of a roll lately and will be no easy beat. The Kings could learn a thing or two from the way Orlando has been playing lately.

Fantasy News

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    The Clippers closed their practice facility in a precautionary move after a member of their Orlando traveling party tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

    This seems like something that will continue to happen as we prepare to move teams into the Orlando bubble. We'll keep an eye on whether any specific player is infected and how that will impact the restart plans for this team.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, the NBA is close to signing off on a secondary bubble location in Chicago for the eight teams left out of the league resumption with a target date of September.

    They went on to say that this bubble would allow those eight teams who were not invited to Orlando to have an opportunity to have mini-training camps as well as games. It has been reported throughout the last few months that the teams that were not invited should have an opportunity to prepare for next season. Many of the teams who were not included would benefit greatly from additional practice time and game reps as most of these teams have young players who need to continue to develop their skills. There will still be a lot of logistics that need to be ironed out so this a situation to monitor as we learn more.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Marvin Bagley III
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    Marvin Bagley confirmed that he is "ready to go" for the NBA restart in Orlando after rehabbing from a left foot sprain.

    It was previously reported in early July that the Kings' training staff believed that Bagley would be available for game action soon and this report confirms that Bagley will in fact be available for the league resumption. Bagley has yet to live up to the hype of the second overall pick in 2018 as he has only been able to play in 75 out of a possible 146 games (51.3 percent). It is unclear what role Bagley will have in Orlando but it appears that his injury woes are behind him and we will learn more about his ability during the league resumption. Bagley's return would likely cut into the playing time of Nemanja Bjelica, Harry Giles, Jabari Parker and Harrison Barnes.

    Source: Sean Cunningham on Twitter

  • Jusuf Nurkic
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    In a conference call with Portland media, Terry Stotts revealed that Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are likely to return to their starting jobs and won't be under minutes restrictions when the NBA resumes.

    It should be a huge defensive lift for a Blazers squad that gave up points like crazy, though this will throw a wrench into plans for DFS players. Stotts mentioned that he's considered starting Nurkic next to current starter Hassan Whiteside, though that fit would likely only be tenable in certain matchups. This, plus news of Trevor Ariza's absence during the restart, also has big effects on the wing rotation, where it sounds like Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. are competing to start with Nassir Little and Mario Hezonja also in the mix off the bench. This is a big blow to Hassan Whiteside's fantasy appeal — a top-15 player in 31.3 mpg this year– as his minutes should sink into the mid twenties. Anyone participating in a short league that covers the restart may want to view Whiteside as more of a middle-round, blocks specialist type, though this all obviously hinges on how Nurkic and Collins look when games begin.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Devin Booker
    SG, Phoenix Suns

    Monty Williams said that he wants to play Devin Booker and Ricky Rubio less than their typical minute allotment when the NBA resumes in Orlando.

    The Suns have extremely slim playoff hopes and Williams doesn't want to risk one of the team's starting guards sustaining an injury in what amounts to a meaningless game. Expect similar moves from plenty of teams who realistically have no shot at the playoffs, even if they don't declare as much publicly. Anyone playing fantasy games for the eight-game restart should familiarize themselves with the depth charts on such teams and maybe downgrade some of the bigger names in case their minutes are limited.

    Source: Valley Tales

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Out of 344 players tested between June 24-29, nine have tested positive for COVID-19.

    That brings the NBA up to 25 positive cases among players since June 23 testing began, a positive rate of 7.1%. 10 out of 884 staff members have also tested positive. How the NBA handles any potential spread of the virus inside the Orlando bubble will make or break their entire plan.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Jontay Porter
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said that rookie Jontay Porter may be available for games in the Orlando bubble.

    Porter missed the entire 2018-19 college season after suffering a knee injury and hasn't suited up as a pro, so if he accompanies the Grizzlies to Orlando it'll be more for the experience than actual playing time. His college numbers were intriguing but Porter is only of consequence in deep dynasty formats for now.

    Source: Daily Memphian

  • Grayson Allen
    SG, Memphis Grizzlies

    Grayson Allen (left hip) may be able to play when the NBA season resumes in Orlando.

    Allen has been sidelined with left hip soreness since leaving a game in late January, and his ailment would've ended his season had things finished as scheduled. While he hasn't received the all-clear yet, the Grizzlies will evaluate him after he gets through some practices in the Orlando bubble. He's unlikely to play much even if he can, as the Grizzlies currently boast a fully healthy roster.

    Source: Daily Memphian

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported that Dwight Howard remains in his Atlanta-area home and the Lakers hope he will eventually join them in Orlando.

    The Lakers do not plan to replace Howard on the roster. They are being patient with Howard, but if he decides to not play in Orlando the Lakers will likely look to sign another center.

    Source: Dave McMenamin on Twitter

  • Luc Mbah a Moute
    SF, Houston Rockets

    Shams Charania reported that the Houston Rockets plan to sign Luc Mbah a Moute for the Orlando restart.

    Thabo Sefolosha announced on Wednesday that he will not participate in the Orlando restart, leaving the Rockets with a need for an additional three-and-D wing. Mbah a Moute played 61 games for the Rockets in 2017-18 and averaged 25.6 minutes per game, so he is familiar with their system. Mbah a Moute will be a low-usage player that the Rockets can plug in at the end of their rotation and will provide them more depth, which could be imperative for teams given the COVID-19 concerns surrounding this Orlando restart.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter