• Despite the fact that another underwhelming season is slowly coming to an end for the Sacramento Kings, we can’t help but feel a little optimistic as the offseason approaches. Finding optimism where there seemingly is none is far too familiar for Kings fans around this time of year, but this time it feels different; the vibes are genuinely good and it gives fans a reason to believe.

    The playoff conversation died a long time ago, no matter how confident the players seemed to be on social media, it was never an attainable goal following the bomb shell that occurred during the All-Star break. The #HereWeBuild can be brought back to life, but thankfully for another reason this time around. Regardless of the fact that many have their eyes on the offseason already, the Kings continue to fight on a nightly basis and they were rewarded with a stunning victory over the Clippers on Sunday.

    Anyway, we are here to preview the upcoming week for Sacramento so let’s dive right into it.

    Monday, March 27 – vs. Memphis Grizzlies (40-33)

    This marks the final meeting between the two teams this season. Coming into this game the Grizzlies have a 2-1 lead in the season series and were fairly dominant in the prior two victories. Sacramento does have one win over Memphis earlier in the season but that seems like an age ago.

    Marc Gasol is unlikely to suit up for the Grizzlies so the Kings get a win there but despite the fact one of their best players won’t be playing, it will still be a tough task for the young Kings to knock off a team on its way to yet another playoff berth. Zach Randolph will likely start in place of Gasol and he’s going to be a problem down low for the Kings as they just don’t have to muscle to match up with him. If Sacramento can’t crack the Grizzlies defense, it’s going to be a long night.

    Wednesday, March 29 – vs. Utah Jazz (44-29)

    If you thought the Grizzlies would be a problem for the Kings then think again. The Jazz are a younger, more consistent team on offense and are just as good defensively. The season series is 2-1 in favor of Utah, and one of those losses came in OT back on March 5.

    The Jazz have already clinched a playoff berth this season but they are looking to remain in the top four so they will come out motivated and full of energy. The length of Rudy Gobert is going to be a problem for Sacramento, like it has been in the previous meetings this season. Willie Cauley-Stein will put forth his best efforts to stop the Stifle Tower but Willie’s poor rebounding could really hurt the Kings in this one. Things could be of a similar tone to Monday’s game.

    Friday, March 31 – @ New Orleans Pelicans (31-42)

    This game will be something else. It will (likely) be the first time the Kings see DeMarcus Cousins post trade but he is dealing with an ankle injury at the moment so his immediate status for this one is up in the air.

    If Cousins does suit up he’s going to give it everything he has, and that’s scary to think about. There’s going to be a lot of emotion on both sides of the ball and it’s going to be a must watch for not only Kings fans, but basketball fans in general. Sacramento will not only have Cousins to worry about; they have Anthony Davis to worry about too and that could cause a lot of problems for the young “Thin Towers”.

    Saturday, April 1 – @ Minnesota Timberwolves (28-44)

    These two teams have met three times this season and once post All-Star break. The Wolves got the better of the Kings in the most recent game but they have lost six straight and are slumping. This is a game the Kings can win and it will likely be their easiest of the week.

    They will have to work out a game plan to guard Karl-Anthony Towns who continues to grow as a player each game. Skal Labissiere may be able to work his magic in this one and Willie Cauley-Stein could be a good match up against the Wolves front court. This game also has important lottery implications so the ‘tanking’ crowd will certainly be cheering for a loss in this one.

    Notes:

    • ESPN’s Marc Stein released a report which mentioned that the Kings have been granted permission to talk to former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie. This report was quickly confirmed by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical who said that Vivek Ranadive has been on the look out for someone to essentially replace Vlade Divac. This move would be great for the Kings after what Hinkie was able to do in Philadelphia. Details are fairly limited at this point but it’s a promising sign for Sacramento.
    • Malachi Richardson (hamstring) will miss the remainder of the season after Kings’ medical staff decided to shut him down. He suffered a partial tear in his right hamstring back in February and medical staff believe it’s best to sit him out and go into the offseason healthy.

    Injury Report:

    Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) – out for the season

    Malachi Richardson (partially torn hamstring) – out for the season

    Tyreke Evans (rest, knee) – day-to-day

    Arron Afflalo (personal) – day-to-day

Fantasy News

  • Furkan Korkmaz
    SG, Philadelphia Sixers

    After an injury-plagued sophomore campaign for the Sixers, Furkan Korkmaz knows this season will be crucial for his future and he is hoping to make big strides this year.

    The one thing Korkmaz has going for him is his shooting ability and that is something the Sixers could surely utilize on this roster. It did not click last season, but Korkmaz will get another chance to prove his worth at some point this season. Still, it is hard to picture him coming out of the gate with a big role on opening night.

    Source: Sixers.com

  • Nikola Mirotic
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    On Sunday, Nikola Mirotic dropped 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting for Barcelona.

    Mirotic's opening appearance for his new EuroLeague club, Barcelona, resulted in a victory, and he did not have to work too hard for most of his buckets at the Supercopa Endesa versus Valencia. Mirotic should find quick success during his return to European basketball, but NBA fantasy players will surely be missing his presence stateside.

    Source: Eurohoops

  • Bruce Brown
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey spoke highly of Bruce Brown’s defensive play, calling him an ‘elite defender.’

    Brown remains in contention for a starting spot with the Pistons, but he is not a high-usage player, and the Pistons have stocked up with offensive threats such as Derrick Rose and the immortal Joe Johnson. It will be tough for Brown to rack up enough touches or minutes this season.

    Source: Pistons.com

  • Kevin Durant
    SF, Brooklyn Nets

    There is some optimism in league circles about Kevin Durant's (Achilles) chances of playing this season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

    Looking back on Durant's decision to return during the Finals, the Nets may want to exude caution when considering KD's return to action. However, Durant is pursuing his rehab with a sense of purpose, and it would be great to see him get back on the court this season. We'll keep you posted when a real timeline on Durant's rehab emerges. This news does not make him a target on draft day for standard leagues.

    Source: New York Post

  • Larry Nance Jr.
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Larry Nance Jr. is the presumed favorite to start at PF heading into training camp according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

    Fedor went on to speculate that Nance Jr. could see a lot of time at the four while Kevin Love starts at center and Tristan Thompson and John Henson compete for back up minutes behind those two. Any uptick in playing time would be a huge boost to the per-minute dynamo that Nance Jr is, and a starting role with a new coaching staff bodes well for that. He's trending in the right direction.

    Source: Cleveland.com

  • Kevin Knox
    SF, New York Knicks

    Coach Fizdale told the Knicks players that no starters have been determined and players had to earn their minutes.

    Kevin Knox will battle with veteran Marcus Morris for the starting small forward spot. Knox has been working on getting his body stronger to be able to take on more contact on drives to the basket. Last season as a rookie, he averaged 12.8 points on a putrid 37 percent from the field. Knox will look to get more looks closer to the basket and increase his field goal percentage to more respectable levels. Knox provided little else outside of points and rebounds last season and will need to improve his shooting and defense to be considered a standard-league player.

    Source: New York Post

  • Bol Bol
    C, Denver Nuggets

    According to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, Bol Bol could spend his entire rookie season in the G-League.

    Bol Bol was not drafted to be an immediate impact player, but just fell too late fore the Nuggets liking. The 44th overall pick needs to bulk up and show that he could take the bumps and bruises before having his chance on the big stage.

    Source: Nick Kosmider of The Athletic

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    After speaking with Doc Rivers and Lawrence Frank, Dan Woike's takeaway is that Kawhi Leonard's "load management" will not be as strict as it was last year.

    It was reported in July that Kawhi said he wants to play all next season fully and approach load management on a game-to-game basis so this is further confirmation that he will most likely play more than the 60 games he played last year but surely won't play all 82 either. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports speculates that this could be for several reasons. One could be that Leonard can take on more now that he is a little healthier while he believes the Clippers might also limit his per-game minutes to help him play more games. The other idea is that because the Western Conference is so deep, the Clippers will not be able to get a good seed if Leonard sits too many games. Fantasy wise, Leonard finished last season seventh in per game value but 18th in total value since he played only 60 games. Near the top of the second round would be a great place to snag him if he plays around 70 games this season.

    Source: Dan Woike on Twitter

  • Malik Beasley
    SG, Denver Nuggets

    The Nuggets want to extend Malik Beasley and Juan Hernagomez before the October 21 deadline.

    The Nuggets already locked up one of their 2016 first-round picks (Jamal Murray) to a long-term deal and now want to do the same with their other two 2016 first-round picks, Hernangomez and Beasley. If not, the two will likely become restricted free-agents at the end of the season. Both players saw stretches of big minutes last season due to injuries but at full health, Beasley was around 20 minutes per game while Hernangomez was at around 10. Fantasy wise, neither player puts up big defensive stats but Beasley is a very efficient shooter with low turnovers, knocking down 2.0 triples per game last year, putting him near top-150 value at only 23.2 minutes per game. Hernangomez is a decent rebounder and knocked down 0.9 triples per game but he would need closer to 30 minutes per game to be a factor in standard leagues.

    Source: Denver Post

  • OG Anunoby
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Coach Nick Nurse intends to put OG Anunoby "back out there in a primary role."

    With Kawhi Leonard vacating the starting small forward spot, Anunoby is the leading candidate to take the role. Before the arrival of Leonard, Anunoby started 62 games in his rookie season. Last season he started 6 out of 67 games, and missed the entire playoffs due to an emergency appendectomy. He averaged 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks over 20.2 minutes per game, while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor, 33.2 percent from 3-point range and 58.1 percent from the free-throw line. He can be picked up as a late round flier in drafts.

    Source: The Athletic