at WASHINGTON WIZARDS
Tip-off: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
John Wall and De'Aaron Fox, perhaps the league's two fastest players, square off on Monday.As is the case every year, Kings fans in 2017 are stuck watching for signs of development from their young players more so than they are rooting for wins. Of course, there is occasionally great reward to be found in doing this. Take, for example, Thursday night, when rookie PG De'Aaron Fox hit a jumper with 13 seconds left to give the Kings their second straight victory—these are the moments Sacramento fans are living for right now. After a seven-game losing streak, the two consecutive victories are a welcome reward. Fox, the NBA's newest speedster, will take on blazing veteran PG John Wall and the Wizards on Monday night in D.C. Despite being one of the most talented teams in the Eastern Conference—perhaps even the most talented, as the Cavs languish without Isaiah Thomas—Washington has been unable to separate itself from the pack in the early going.
There's no real No. 1 option in Sacramento. Entering the weekend, no King was averaging 30 minutes per game nor 14 points per game. Most interesting in Sactown is the point guard position, for reasons both good and bad. On the good side of that equation is Fox, who has looked promising in the early going. Essentially all areas of his game need refinement: His decision-making and his jump-shooting, in particular. But the talent and effort is there, and his leadership figures to bring about a culture shift in the locker room. Now the bad side: PG George Hill, who signed a three-year, $57 million deal in the offseason, has been horrendous. After averaging a career-high 16.9 PPG as a member of the Jazz last season, Hill is in the single-digits this year for scoring. Two lowlights in particular came this past week, when he scored one point in 24 minutes against the Thunder, and two points in 19 minutes against the 76ers. He's taking shots infrequently, and shooting poorly when he does. He opened the season with scoring outings of 16 and 21 points; hopefully he can get his confidence back and hit that level again. PF Zach Randolph is back in a starting lineup after coming off the bench in Memphis last year, and he's the team's leading scorer in Sacramento. SG Buddy Hield, ostensibly a sharpshooter, has been merely average from the outside thus far in his second year. C Willie Cauley-Stein is one of the few regular members of the rotation with a PER above 15.0.
As a product of Lonzo-mania, the Wizards have gotten their most headlines this season in the two games that they've played the Los Angeles Lakers. After plenty of trash talk, they embarrassed themselves with a loss in the first one. In the rematch on Thursday night, though, they got their revenge with a 111-95 win. PG John Wall was electric, putting up 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and three highlight blocks. A left-handed dunk on Lakers center Brook Lopez set the tone in the first quarter. The box score numbers from the Wizards' starting lineup looked pretty much what the team would ideally want in that game: SG Bradley Beal had 22 points and SF Otto Porter had 20 to go with Wall's 23. Beal and Porter each got big contracts within the last two seasons to be Washington's second and third options, respectively, and each is living up to his role. And after missing the start of the year due to legal issues, PF Markieff Morris had the best outing yet of his first four games: 16 points and five rebounds in only 17 minutes. His return his huge for a team with a notoriously shallow bench. SG Kelly Oubre Jr. was beginning to breakout as a shooter in the starting lineup, but has had more trouble when forced to find his own shot with the second unit. He shot a combined 4-of-19 against Dallas and the Lakers this past week. C Marcin Gortat looks to be the same solid interior presence he has been in Washington for years now.