San Antonio at Sacramento
Time: 9 PM CT (NBA TV)
Spread: SAC -2
Odds c/o 5dimes
SAN ANT TEAM NOTES:
The San Antonio Spurs have won six of its last 10 games and are currently 32-22. The Spurs lead the Houston Rockets by one game in the Southwest Division standings, and this is a team truly without as much talent as Houston but it does possess one of the greatest coaches of all-time in Gregg Popovich. The Spurs replaced do-it-all forward Kawhi Leonard with 2-guard DeMar DeRozan this offseason, but this is not a Spurs team resplendent with offensive talents. LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay are both very solid strong veterans, but the rest of the roster is a rag-tag collection of players Popovich has found every way to maximize the respective talents of.
DeRozan and Aldridge combine to score 42.2 points per game, but the offense has hardly been a problem for this Spurs team which averages 112.3 points per game. Bryn Forbes has evolved into a very useful guard and is averaging 13.6 points per game, and Marco Belinelli is still a sharpshooter who thrives in the right system. The Spurs are hoping Derrick White can become a star, and he has looked good in his 22 starts this season.
Even Jakob Poeltl has found his defensive calling under Popovich and though he plays just 15 minutes a game, the Spurs utilize an 11-man rotation and call deep into its bench.
Veteran and future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol has missed the majority of the season and was already looking as though he hit the inevitable career-type-ending “wall.” Even without Gasol, the Spurs manage to get five points or more from 10 different players and keep a fresh rotation the court. Pop always finds new ways to reinvent his same schemes, and the effect is a team seven games above .500 after losing an MVP caliber talent this offseason. San Antonio could not really reasonably expect any better than this.
The Sacramento Kings have turned it around. The team is 27=25 and it has won six of its past 10, and it has crept up to No. 9 in the Western Conference standings. It trails No. 8 L.A. Clippers by just one game for the West’s final playoff spot.
Key behind the turnaround has been the play of three of its improving youngsters. Buddy Hield is finally settling in as a major NBA scorer, averaging just shy of 19 points per game while adding 5.2 board and 2.5 assists per game. De’Aaron Fox has improved a lot in his second NBA season and is averaging 18.1 points and 7.6 assists while leading the Kings with a PER of 18.7.
And amazingly, Willie Cauley-Stein has found both consistency and offense, and he is now looking like the anchor center many figured he would be after his four years playing for John Calipari at Kentucky. WCS is averaging 14.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.75 blocks/steals per game while displaying far more consistency and disability than he had in his first two NBA seasons.
Also, rookie Marvin Bagley is looking a lot like a young Jermaine O’Neal as he finds his footing in the NBA. While he is seeing just 23 minutes a night, the rookie is averaging 12.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while leading the Kings in blocks per game at 1.04.
With that quartet of talented youngsters, the Kings also mix in the sharpshooting of second-year guard Bodgan Bogdanovic and the defense of Iman Shumpert. Sacramento now finally seems to have the depth and consistency it had lacked in years past, and while this still will likely be another trip to the lottery following the 2018-19 season, the Kings have the cap flexibility, picks, and the talent in place— to finally turn things around after 11-years straight of playoff-less basketball.