Kings at Wolves
7:00 pm CST
The Sacramento Kings come to town tonight sporting a 7-5 record on the young season. The Kings, yet another team that once inhabited the lower reaches of the Western Conference along with the Wolves, have the look of a team that is moving up, with recent wins over the Spurs and the Bulls.
They are led by center DeMarcus Cousins, yet another player the Wolves could have drafted. Cousins has been dominating this season, averaging 22 and 12 in 31 minutes a game, getting to the line, and leading the 2nd best offensive rebounding squad in the league.
Most observers viewed it as a mistake when the Kings swapped out Isaiah Thomas (signed by the Kings as a free agent) for Darren Collison at point guard, and it might prove to be one, but early returns are good as Collison is playing excellent basketball. His poor shooting has been ameliorated by six free throw attempts a game and a low mistake game.
The Kings are succeeding by dominating the boards at both ends and leading the league in free throw rate. In addition to Cousins and Collison, Rudy Gay is averaging over seven FTAs a game as part of his 21+ points a night. He's a big and strong small forward that will present an interesting challenge for Andrew Wiggins.
The Wolves are of course completely depleted. They remain without four starters for tonight, and it will be a struggle to keep up with the Kings. It's hard to see how the Wolves will score enough, but the big key might be the rebounding. Keeping the Kings off the offensive glass is going to be crucial, as it's a big way they get their offense. They aren't a great shooting team--they take and make very few threes, so it shouldn't be a flood of threes like it was against the Spurs last night, (only Ben McLemore is a consistent threat from deep), but they hit the boards and get to the line.
With the Wolves having no depth left up front, competing in the paint is going to be a challenge. Gorgui Dieng is going to have to figure out how to play tough but not foul, and the rebounding will require a total team effort. Cousins will likely prove too big and strong for the Wolves, but Dieng will have to try to frustrate him.
Offensively, everyone wants to see the Wolves force feed Wiggins given the circumstances, but it's far from clear that he's capable of carrying a big load at this point. They need to find a way to get Dieng the ball and hopefully put some pressure on Cousins at that end of the floor, though it's not ideal offense.
Not sure who the Wolves will start at the four tonight, but Shabazz Muhammad struggled mightily yesterday while Anthony Bennett somehow scored 20. Neither is a great option, but someone has to play.
For more on the Kings, head over to Sactown Royalty.
Game thread later, and Zach will be covering this one for us.