The Kings (3-3) have been a real threat this year, with all of their games being very close contests and quality wins over the Trail Blazers (124-121), Suns (110-107), and Pelicans (113-109). All of their losses have been close in the fourth quarter, with the Jazz and Warriors having to pull away late and the Mavericks fighting off the Kings’ attempt to come back from 10 points down. The Kings have four players averaging more than 15 points per game, with Harrison Barnes leading the way with 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game on 45.5% 3-point shooting on 7 attempts per game.
The Jazz’s raw number stats are actually quite similar, with leading scorer Donovan Mitchell also averaging 23 points per game and Jordan Clarkson, Rudy Gobert, and Bojan Bogdanovic also averaging just around 16 points per game. However, the Jazz’s offense has been quite putrid, with much ado being made over the collective 32.5% from downtown and leading scorers Don and Jordan averaging 31% and 24% on roughly 9 attempts each.
In the last matchup between the two, Joe Ingles was ejected early, so we weren’t exactly seeing each teams’ normal rotation, but the Kings have definitely proven that this season, they’re not going down without a fight. Will the Jazz’s offensive woes continue, or will returning home provide that spark that will finally get them out of their funk?
When: 7 PM MT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena
TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain (allegedly), NBC Sports California
Radio: KZNS/KTUB, KHTK
Projected Starting Lineups
UTAH: G: Mike Conley G: Donovan Mitchell F: Bojan Bogdanovic F: Royce O’Neale C: Rudy Gobert
Kings: G: De’Aaron Fox G: Tyrese Haliburton. F: Maurice Harkless F: Harrison Barnes C: Richuan Holmes
What to watch for
Davion Mitchell and the Kings’ guard-heavy lineups
Davion Mitchell’s nickname of “Off Night” was on full display as he helped harried Donovan in their first meeting into 27 points on 25 shots. His defensive chops have been on full display, for example in being tasked with guarding Luka Sunday night:
enjoying this little war going on in Dallas right now between Luka and one of the league’s (already) peskiest on-ball defenders in Davion Mitchell.— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) October 31, 2021
first: Luka hits him with a “too small.”
second: he chirps him again after the bucket.
third: Davion clamps him and Luka grills ref pic.twitter.com/WaQBABhJ20
The Kings in general have a very guard-heavy lineup, distributing many minutes to De’Aaron Fox (36), Tyrese Haliburton (32), Davion Mitchell (27), and Buddy Hield (28) and often playing three of them at a time. The Jazz have always struggled with fast, twitch guards in the Quin Snyder era, and got a bit lucky with De’Aaron Fox shooting 5 of 19 (0 of 5 from three), Davion Mitchell shooting 1 of 8 (0 of 4 from three), and Terence Davis shooting 3 of 8 (0 of 4 from three) in the previous matchup. While the Jazz perimeter defense was quite good, the Kings are a very scary matchup if shots begin to fall and the Jazz can’t get it going themselves.
The Utah Jazz Center rotation
Rudy’s been having a scorching start to the season, averaging a career high 16.3 points, 17.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game and being named Western Conference Player of the Week for week 2. Rudy’s anchoring the second best team defense by defensive rating (99) and fifth by offensive rating (112) while boasting personal ratings of 90 and 139, respectively. His ability to set amazing screens and swallow up a ton of space, as well as new flashes of being able to dominate smaller players down low and shoot from the free throw line (72% so far vs 63.1% career), while still providing the same level of defense we’ve come to expect, has provided the anchor that this team has needed with its shooting woes.
Hassan Whiteside has had a fascinating NBA career, from being drafted 33rd overall by the Kings in 2010 to falling out of the league to rehabilitating his career with Miami and signing a record 4-year, $98M contract to falling off and being traded to Portland and then signing with the Kings again for the veteran minimum. The fact that Whiteside has voluntarily come to Utah to back up Rudy Gobert, who beefed together as competitors for the league block title and DPOY awards, speaks volumes about his maturation and desire to contribute to a winning team. And it’s paying off - he’s averaging a career high win shares per 48 minutes (0.273) and Offensive Rating (128) while sporting an insane Defensive Rating (92). With the Kings choosing to start Richuan Holmes and play Alex Len and Tristan Thompson over former 2nd overall pick Marvin Bagley III, look for Hassan Whiteside to combine with Rudy to provide 48 minutes of solid defense and a huge rolling threat against his former team.