Utah Jazz: 3 reasons to take the Sacramento Kings seriously

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Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)

The Utah Jazz started the 2021-22 season off on the right foot, dismantling the Oklahoma City Thunder in last night’s season opener 107-86. For Jazz and Thunder fans alike, this was roughly the expected outcome. The Thunder are the NBA’s foremost proponents of tanking (or if you prefer, The Process) whereas the Jazz enter the 2021-22 NBA season with their sights on the Larry O’Brien trophy.

In other words, a loss to the Thunder on opening night would be cause for concern, but a blowout victory is hardly cause for much celebration. Tomorrow night, the Jazz take on the long-suffering Sacramento Kings. While the Kings are another club that any projection would comfortably favor the Jazz to overtake, Quin Snyder and his team cannot afford to treat them as another leisurely jaunt in the park, either.

Here are three reasons the Utah Jazz should feel compelled to do something teams have seldom done over the past decade-and-a-half: take the Sacramento Kings seriously.

Utah Jazz vs Sacramento Kings: Guard depth

Contrary to popular perception, there is actually considerable talent on this Sacramento Kings squad. Most of it happens to come at each guard position. Between De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Terrance Davis and rookie Davion Mitchell, the Kings have 5 guards who would stand a real chance at cracking any NBA rotation.

Fox is comfortably the cream of this crop: the 25.2 points and 7.2 assists per game the 23-year-old averaged last season were befitting those of an NBA superstar. Meanwhile, Haliburton assembled an impressive rookie campaign last season. His per game numbers aren’t as earth shattering, but it’s worth noting that the 1.4 Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) he posted last season suggested strongly that he’s a ready-made contributor.

Buddy Hield may be no more than a shooting specialist, but his 39.1% accuracy on the almost-unbelievable 10.2 three-point attempts per game he shot last season will force the Utah Jazz to account for his presence. Terrance Davis may not be a proven NBA commodity yet, but he did average 18.5 points per 36 minutes over the 27 games he played with the Kings last season. Finally, Davion Mitchell is a rookie, but he plays defense like a 10-year veteran. He’ll be feeling especially motivated to shut down Utah Jazz freshman Jared Butler.

The Sacramento Kings will run three-guard lineups, and have should have two solid-to-exceptional NBA guards on the floor for all 48 minutes in tomorrow night’s matchup. The Utah Jazz will have to account for that.

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