Phoenix Suns prepare for Sacramento Kings in final preseason hitout

The Phoenix Suns have one final hitout before the start of the regular season, hosting pacific rivals the Sacramento Kings at Footprint Center on Wednesday night.

The Suns are currently 1-2 in preseason, having lost games to the Adelaide 36ers and most recently the Denver Nuggets on Monday. They’ll again be without some key players for the clash with the Kings; Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne had already been ruled out for the remainder of preseason, while Landry Shamet and Dario Saric will again be missing. Josh Okogie is probable with his hamstring issue, having made his Suns debut in the Nuggets loss.

Wednesday’s matchup with the Sacramento Kings gives the Phoenix Suns one final tuneup before the start of the NBA regular season.

Given there’s still seven days until the Suns kick off their regular season campaign against the Dallas Mavericks, expect the core four of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton to again play around 30 minutes. From there, there’s still a battle for rotation minutes, particularly given some uncertainty around the aforementioned minor injuries.

Phoenix signed Saben Lee and Adonis Arms on Tuesday, with this perhaps being their one and only opportunity to impress in a Suns uniform. It could also be the last time we see Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, that’s unless James Jones ends up utilizing the 15th roster spot.

An increase in defensive intensity should be the major focus in this one, with the absence of Jae Crowder clearly evident through the first three games. Phoenix are 27th during the preseason in defensive rating, having ranked top three last season in their historic 64-18 campaign.

Opposition Analysis

While it may sound strange to say for a team that’s missed the postseason for 17 straight years, but there’s genuine optimism around the Kings heading into 2022-23. With a new coach in Mike Brown and some impactful new on-court additions, Sacramento has no interest in remaining in the lottery yet again.

Reports suggest Richaun Holmes and Keegan Murray will be unavailable due to non-covid illness, providing a major disappointment for fans who wanted to the see the fourth overall pick. Murray’s selection at that spot was criticised early, but his form in Summer League and now in preseason has pencilled him as a future star.

The Kings have been in blistering form throughout their two preseason games, with their 29.6 net rating easily league-best. Although Phoenix hold perhaps the most deadly pick-and-roll duo in the league with Paul and Ayton, Sacramento’s pairing of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis can’t be far behind.

A loss for the Suns here should be no shock, even if the starters play the majority of gametime. Sacramento are deep and with Phoenix undermanned to a degree, it’s sure to provide a tough battle.

Valley of the Suns will provide full post-game analysis shortly after its conclusion.