Keegan Murray to miss Kings preseason matchup with Lakers

Murray to sit with right thumb soreness

Bring on the Lakers.

The Sacramento Kings opened their preseason schedule on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors to mixed and mostly sub-par results. They return to the court Wednesday with a chance to show improvement as they march closer to the start of the 2023-24 campaign.

Unlike the opener, the Kings will be missing one of their starters. Keegan Murray is a late scratch for the game with right thumb soreness.


Kings at Lakers, Honda Center, Anaheim, CA



How to watch

NBA TV outside of market, in the Sacramento area

Starters (Likely)

PG: De’Aaron Fox

SG: Kevin Huerter

SF: Harrison Barnes

PF: Trey Lyles

C: Domantas Sabonis

What to expect

In game one, the Kings’ first team looked like a well-oiled machine. They moved well without the ball, found each other for open looks and played unselfishly.

“We came out strong, I don’t think we particularly finished the half well, but I think at the beginning of the game, we got out in transition, we got easy baskets, we touched the paint just about every possession,” De’Aaron Fox said of Game 1.

This group played a ton of minutes together last season, so there is continuity, but they also showed some interesting new wrinkles. In the opener, the starters played 14-16 minutes each. If we look back to last season, the number of minutes for starters jumped to the 21-24 range in Game 2.

Expect the team to put an emphasis on transition defense, playing defense without fouling and rebounding against the Lakers. These are areas that the team struggled in as a whole in the opener.

Reserves (Projected)

PG: Davion Mitchell/Jordan Ford/Keon Ellis

SG: Malik Monk/Colby Jones/Jaylen Nowell

SF: Chris Duarte/Kessler Edwards/Jeremy Lamb

PF: Sasha Vezenkov/Deonte Burton/Jaylen Slawson

C: JaVale McGee/Alex Len/Chance Comanche

This list is basically how things played out in the opener. Davion Mitchell looked really solid running the second team. He was confident with his shot and had some really nice passes. Malik Monk and JaVale McGee are instantly finding chemistry in the pick-and-roll, which is fun to watch. Trey Lyles had a quiet night and Chris Duarte struggled.

Expectations are for Brown to continue to use this group as his second unit, although there may be a chance for rookie Sasha Vezenkov to get some minutes. With Murray out of action, Vezenkov might even move into the second unit.

The third group that came in played solid basketball and the fourth unit showed some fight. Coming into camp, this roster and rotation was mostly set. Through the first week and a half, there is nothing unexpected happening, outside of Vezenkov being with the third team.

More on Vezenkov

Fans from Sacramento all the way to Bulgaria were surprised when the EuroLeague star didn’t play until the second half against the Raptors on Sunday. That could be the case again as Brown tries to build continuity with the second unit.

“We’re just taking a look at different combinations,” Brown said. “We may throw Sasha in with the second five and Duarte in with the third five.”

Vezenkov played well on the offensive end, posting a team high 12 points as a member of the third team, but he graded out as “okay” on the defensive end according to Brown. Vezenkov has some limitations as a defender, but he needs to make sure he has the team concepts down if he hopes to earn the trust of the coaching staff.

There is a savviness to Vezenkov’s game. He is an excellent perimeter shooter, but he’s also sneaky as a cutter. He just seems to magically show up under the basket and his teammates have found him for easy shots.

Brown is in a tough spot when it comes to the 28-year-old forward. The Kings’ offense was incredible last season and most of the main pieces are back. He needs Vezenkov to bring something on the defensive end if he hopes to see minutes early in his rookie season.

“I don’t know if he will be or not, he’s just got to keep fighting his behind off and get better every opportunity he gets, whether it’s in practice, in shootaround and/or in the game,” Brown said on Tuesday when asked whether Vezenkov would be part of the rotation come opening night.

In an interesting twist, Vezenkov played minutes at the small forward spot alongside Lyles and either McGee or Alex Len. He was more of a power forward in Europe, but the Kings need him to show versatility.

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