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Opening Night: Utah Jazz take on Sacramento Kings

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This one counts. Can the Jazz duplicate their preseason effort tonight?

NBA: Preseason-Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Today, like any other day, you can sit and argue with people online or at the water cooler about player or team rankings, which rookie will be more successful in the league, what the definition of the word “rookie” is, or how big the statues of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert should be. You can comb through Basketball Reference or NBA Stats to make arguments about why John Stockton truly is the best, most untouchable point guard in NBA History, or why Danté Exum is poised for a breakout year. You can troll on twitter by stating facts such as how Derek Fisher lied to three teams to get out of his contract, or how Jordan pushed off, or posting videos of Kyrylo Fesenko’s feud with Kobe Bryant.

Yes, you can do all of that today, but unlike any other day in the last 162, you can watch Utah Jazz basketball that counts. Tonight, the Sacramento Kings are in town. Here’s what the Jazz did to the Kings when they played last week in the preseason:

Essentially, the Jazz started out by precisely executing plays, but then remembered that they really didn’t have to do that to win. To use a tired cliché, the Jazz were the Globetrotters and the Kings were the Generals.

That was then. The regular season is a different animal, and I’ll predict right now that the Jazz aren’t winning this one by 40. That being said, they should definitely win handily. Sacramento has a good coach, and they have some interesting pieces, but the Jazz have far more firepower and depth.


Game Info

When: 8:00MT • Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Where: Golden 1 Center · Sacramento, CA

TV: AT&T Sportsnet RM, NBA League Pass

Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone

Injuries:

Utah Jazz:

Raul Neto — Right Hamstring — OUT

Sacramento Kings:

Kosta Koufos — Hamstring — Day to Day

Bogdan Bogdanovic — Knee Surgery — OUT

Iman Shumpert — Calf — Day to Day


What to watch for:

Can Royce O’Neale Finish from 0-3 Feet?

NBA: Preseason-Toronto Raptors at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Royce O’Neale went from being an undrafted unknown to a respectable 8th-man on an NBA team. One reason he’s not quite the 6th-man is that while he takes 33% of his shots at the rim, he only makes around 57% of them. Donovan Mitchell, by contrast, takes 33% of his shots at the rim and makes 63% of them. It’s a small thing, but it can make a big difference when the dust settles. O’Neale is by no means bad—but he can take his game to the next level by focusing on this.

Rookies and Sophomores

NBA: Preseason-Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Some of the most interesting players in this game are in their first and second seasons. Utah’s Grayson Allen is our most interesting rookie, who had a so-so preseason. He’s got a pretty shot and raw athletic ability, but has struggled on defense. Coach Quin Snyder has said that if he doesn’t play defense, he doesn’t play. Sacramento’s rookie forwards Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley looked bad against the Jazz, totally overmatched by Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. However, they both had decent preseasons:

Sacramento’s DeAaron Fox is a speedy point guard who is a talented slasher. Ricky Rubio will have his hands full keeping him in check. Fox had an off-game last week, but that doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous. We already talked about Royce O’Neal, but Utah also has some guy named Don. He’s alright, I guess.

Alec Burks—Again:

Remember when Dennis Lindsey said that Alec Burks would be our most valuable free agent addition? That was a couple years ago, but his statement appears prophetic now. Since last year’s playoffs, Burks has shown poise and control—two things that many wondered if he would ever acquire. Now he is a candidate for 6th Man of the Year.

So strap in, fire up the ol’ Twitter machine, and try to remember the new hashtag: #TeamIsEverything.