Kings open preseason schedule against Raptors in Vancouver
Basketball is back!
And so it begins…
The Sacramento Kings open their 2023-24 preseason schedule Sunday evening against the Toronto Raptors north of the border in Vancouver, BC. It’s the first of five preseason games for the Kings.
Kings at Raptors, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC
5 PM PST
How to watch
You can stream the game on Kings.com if you are in the Sacramento area.
PG: De’Aaron Fox
SG: Kevin Huerter
SF: Harrison Barnes
PF: Keegan Murray
C: Domantas Sabonis
What to expect
Mike Brown wouldn’t 100 percent commit to a starting five, although he did say that the group that finished last season would get the first crack to start this year. According to Brown, the starters will play “15 to 20 [minutes], at the most, probably around 15 to 17.”
The Kings have a full roster of 21 players, with 14 players on guaranteed contracts, plus three two-way players. They have four additional players vying for the final roster spot, including Jeremy Lamb, Jaylen Nowell, Chance Comanche and Deonte Burton.
Brown has similar expectations for this group of four, as he does for the other 17 who have already secured a spot on the opening night roster.
“I hope they try to play the way we want to play this year -- play fast, play physical and play together,” Brown said.
Courtesy of Kings Media Relations
PG: Davion Mitchell/Jordan Ford/Keon Ellis
SG: Malik Monk/Colby Jones/Jaylen Nowell
SF: Chris Duarte/Kessler Edwards/Jeremy Lamb
PF: Trey Lyles/Sasha Vezenkov/Deonte Burton/Jaylen Slawson
C: JaVale McGee/Alex Len/Chance Comanche
We know the likely starting lineup, not only to open preseason, but for the start of the regular season. There are still some question marks regarding the second group. During camp, the coaching staff has mixed it up quite a bit from one day to the next.
On Saturday, the players wearing gray jerseys were Mitchell, Monk, Duarte, Lyles and McGee. The next group, wearing blue jerseys, were Jordan Ford, Colby Jones, Kessler Edwards, Sasha Vezenkov and Alex Len. The final group, which wore red jerseys, consisted of Keon Ellis, Jaylen Nowell, Jeremy Lamb, Jalen Slawson and Chance Comanche. It should also be noted that Deonte Burton was wearing a black jersey that matched the starting unit’s.
It’s hard to read a lot into any of this. Are Lyles and McGee going to play together? Can a player like Edwards fight his way into the rotation after an impressive summer? What about Colby Jones?
Perhaps the biggest surprise has been Vezenkov working with the third unit during multiple practices. He has turned heads with his shooting ability throughout camp, but he needs to adjust to the speed and athleticism of the NBA.
Keep in mind that Brown started KZ Okpala the first three games of last season before Murray stepped in and started 78 of the final 79 games. Brown likes to put his players in a position to succeed and watching from the sidelines while he adjusts to the NBA might be the right decision for Vezenkov.
Theme of training camp
Despite finishing 24th in the league in defensive rating last season, the Kings didn’t truly address the issue during the offseason. Veterans JaVale McGee and Chris Duarte are the only two defensive upgrades, but they are both back end of the rotation players that could have a limited role.
Instead of making changes, Brown has preached an increase in physicality throughout camp. The Kings were solid defensively in the fourth quarter last season and they also defended well against the Golden State Warriors in the postseason, so there is hope for internal improvement.
This is also the second year for this coaching staff with the team and with so many returning faces, there is hope that continuity will lead to improvement.
Toronto is a good test to open preseason. They are long, athletic and physical, which is exactly what the Kings need to test their new mental approach. Wins and losses don’t matter in preseason, but this is an opportunity to see where the team measures up after five days of camp.