Sacramento at Memphis
Time: 7 PM (CT), NBA LP
Spread: MEM -2.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
SAC TEAM NOTES:
The Sacramento Kings have managed to split its last 10 games with a 5-5 mark, but at .500 as the season reaches its mid-point it is hard to call it anything but a success for a team that has not sniffed the postseason in 11 seasons (and counting). What has made part of the difference for the Kings is that it simply has amassed so much young talent it is hard to be anything but at least decent: Buddy Hield has rounded into a legitimate No. 1 option while second-year guard DeAaron Fox has continued to improve in his ascent to becoming one of the better young point guards in the league.
Hield is averaging better than 20 points per game and shooting strong percentages: 47.8 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from behind the arc. Fox is doing a little bit of everything, averaging 18 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game while leading the Kings in Player Efficiency Rating at 19.0. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Kings has been the consistency and offensive improvement of center Willie Cauley-Stein. Thought to be something of a bust, WCS has come into his own this season. The former Kentucky Wildcat is averaging 13.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game while playing just 28 minutes a game.
The Kings have had to exercise patience with rookie Marvin Bagley whose injuries have kept him on the shelf after a promising start to his NBA career. The Duke big man returned just on the 7th of January but has played two promising games since then, averaging nine points and 6.5 rebounds over his 20 minutes in each game. When the minutes’ restrictions lift and Bagley returns fully to form, this Kings team could find its way into the playoffs. Just making the postseason would be a tremendous step forward for a team that has lingered in obscurity for over a decade.
MEM TEAM NOTES:
The Memphis Grizzlies have lost its past seven, and chatter around league circles is that the Grizz will be holding a fire sale on its veteran talents, even Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. The Grizz’ free fall has dropped the team a full 10 games under .500 and entirely out of the Western Conference playoff chase.
It is somewhat confounding considering the hot start the Grizz got off to this season, but on a team mostly devoid of talent outside of its top veterans, it is not that surprising. Jaren Jackson Jr. has made good progress as a rookie, and Conley and Gasol are as solid as NBA starters come, but the Grizz have just four players averaging double-figure scoring and manage just 100.8 points per game as a team. Memphis will be in the market for youth and scoring, and it has the assets to really carve a nice rebuilding effort, it is just that so few figured the rebuild would end up coming mid-season, as it is.