Sacramento Kings (9-20) at Philadelphia 76ers (14-15)
On what is a very light slate of games today, with only six teams in action, one game stands out as displaying the most value, the matchup between the Sacramento Kings and the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Kings enter this game at 9-20, one of the worst records in the entire NBA. The Sixers, on the other hand, are showing signs of life for the first time in a long time as they have their record right at about .500 this late in the season, for the first time in recent memory.
The Sacramento Kings are a bad team, with not much of an outlook towards the future. Buddy Hield is fun to watch, and Zach Randolph is still earning his paycheck, but there isn’t much of a core of talent to build on.
You have to wonder what the front office is thinking in Sac Town. I loved picking up De’Aaron Fox, Frank Mason, and Justin Jackson in the draft and all three are showing some signs of life, especially Fox, but that group is multiple years away from being ready to play at a high level. And by that time Ze-Bo will be done, and then they will be a team full of guards with no big men to space the floor.
I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before the Kings trade away some of these great young assets for a box of rocks. They managed to turn perennial All-Star Demarcus Cousins into a guy that all he can do is shoot in Buddy Hield, maybe they should look to flip Fox or Mason for another one-dimensional guy that isn’t going to help them win long term.
The Kings are in the midst of a four-game road trip that has started out with them getting blown out by the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Toronto Raptors. They had the night off last night to travel but are a long way away from home, playing in Philly.
The Philadelphia 76ers were the toast of the league in November. The Sixers won nine games, and it looked like “the process” was finally starting to work! December has been a wake-up call for Philly fans as the Sixers have lost six of eight.
Is this a fun young team with a great core of talent that is going to be great someday? Absolutely. But are they ready to compete with the elite teams in the east? No chance, at least not yet.
Joel Embiid is the best young big man I have seen in a long time. Injuries have kept him off the floor a lot in his short NBA career, but when he is on the court, this kid can absolutely play on both sides of the court.
With a stat line of 24 points, 11 boards, 3.5 assists, and 2 steals a game, Embiid has quieted all of his haters this season. If the big man can stay on the court for most of the games this season, I see Philly sneaking into the playoffs in the eastern conference, something that sounded preposterous just a year or two ago.
The other half of the young, dynamic duo in Philly is Ben Simmons. Simmons has had similar struggles staying on the court, missing his entire rookie season with an injury last year, but has exploded onto the scene this season.
Simmons is so skilled with the ball and has polish that is well beyond his years. He is quickly turning into one of the best players in the entire league. Simmons is really filling up the stat sheet and is a threat for a triple-double every night out. Simmons is going for 17 points, 9 rebounds, 8 dimes, and 2 steals a game. He can really do it all.
This game is a tough one. Sacramento isn’t very good this season, but the Sixers are struggling and coming off a back to back as they played Chicago last night. I just don’t think the Kings are going to be able to hang with Philly all night long. They don’t have a matchup for Simmons, and he could have a huge game.
Eight points is steep for a team playing its second night in a row and that has lost six of eight, but I just can’t believe the Kings are going to have much energy either in the middle of a long road trip. Embiid vs. Randolph is a fun matchup, as both the big boys love to bang down low and talk trash, but I see them canceling each other out so it will be on Simmons to win this game for the Sixers.
Give me Philly to get back on track tonight at home against the Kings.