Phoenix Suns’ keys to defeating the surprising Sacramento Kings

De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Though it has come as a surprise to very few NBA fans, the Phoenix Suns are once again one of the NBA’s top teams early in the 2022-23 campaign. What was far less foreseeable is the success accrued by the Sacramento Kings this season, who are off to a 10-8 start.

Sacramento’s success can be largely attributed to the stellar play of De’Aaron Fox. Sacramento’s ability to load up on perimeter spacing this offseason has worked wonders for the Kentucky product, as this has opened up driving lanes for Fox to attack the basket. His shooting as an individual has also been a major part of their success, as Fox is burying two triples per contest for the first time in his NBA career at a 39% clip.

The Phoenix Suns’ keys to success vs. the Kings

Containing Fox is going to be the most critical avenue to success for the Suns, as they will be shorthanded with Chris Paul still out of the lineup. Cam Payne will certainly have his hands full containing a Domantas Sabonis-Fox pick-and-roll game, as both players are gifted passers and scorers. Mikal Bridges will, per usual, be asked to do a lot on the defensive end in this matchup.

The key to this matchup will be containing the pick-and-roll game by encouraging Fox and Sabonis to settle for jumpers. Neither Sabonis nor Fox is historically efficient from outside of six feet, whereas their play in the lane and on the low block is well above-average.

Not biting on high screens would not only be effective in slowing down this specific duo, but it would also create fewer rotations that open up looks for Sacramento shooters. These role players have been a huge bright spot for the Kings, as the team currently has six individuals averaging double-digit scoring figures. Additions like Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, and Keegan Murray have really opened up the offense for this roster.

Sacramento will enter this contest with a completely healthy roster, something that Phoenix can’t relate to. The Suns will be once again without Jae Crowder, Chris Paul, and Cam Johnson tonight. Phoenix has managed to control the damages of the injury bug this season, but missing three key rotation players against a fully-healthy and hot squad is never a good thing.

However, if Phoenix can continue to get very solid minutes out of their reserves, this game should be very manageable in the Valley. Look for Bridges to have a very busy night as a P&R defender and Devin Booker to attack the defensive mismatches with Huerter and Monk on the wing.