Their first matchup took place on October 29th, where the Kings came out victorious 113-109. Both teams are coming off losses, and are on the tail-end of back-to-back games. The Pelicans and the Kings faced the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz last night, respectively.
The Kings are 3-4 through their first seven games of the season. They are heading towards another mediocre campaign unless their players step up. Harrison Barnes has made major leaps in his offensive game, but the rest of the starting lineup needs to rise to the fore.
De'Aaron Fox signed a max extension with the team two summers ago, but is yet to earn an All-Star or All-NBA selection. On a positive note, the team has had success in their last two drafts, snapping up Tyrese Haliburton (2020) and Davion Mitchell (2021).
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans are realizing the importance of Zion Williamson. He hasn't laced up yet this season, and the team is languishing at the bottom of the table, winning only one of their eight games.
The rest of their healthy players like Devonte' Graham, Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Ingram haven't had any impact thus far. Considering that Williamson is still weeks away from his return, the Pelicans' playoff hopes might be over before the forward makes his season debut.
New Orleans Pelicans Injury Report
The New Orleans Pelicans have a few players on their injury report, and it looks like they are headed for another loss.
Zion Williamson's re-evaluation did not yield positive results, as ESPN's Andrew Lopez has reported that he'll be out for another two to three weeks. Head coach Willie Green spoke about his star forward's recovery status, saying,
"He is progressing to do the on-the-court work. Still no 5-on-5 competitively yet. He's cutting. He's doing explosive work. He's running. He's getting closer and closer...It's just one of those injuries where we want to be really diligent, especially with the foot, of being careful when we put him back on the floor at full go."
"You have to feel the real grind and bump of playing against competitors. That's the part he hasn't done yet...We just want to continue for him to progress in the right direction without any setbacks."
Herbert Jones left their last game against the Suns due to a head injury, and didn't return due to the league's concussion protocol. His status is unknown for now, but he is listed as 'day to day'. Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram did not play the last game due to a hip injury, and is also listed as day-to-day.
Sacramento Kings Injury Report
Unlike their opponents, the Sacramento Kings feature a clean injury report for tonight's game, with no player listed as injured or questionable. So far, the NBA's health and safety protocols haven't affected the Kings.
The only players absent from the lineup are the ones sent to the NBA G-League. Louis King and Neemias Queta are on two-way contracts, while Jahmi'us Ramsey and Robert Woodard II have been sent to the G-League on assignment.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Sacramento Kings: Predicted Lineups
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans have a limited number of lineups they can deploy because of their injury-riddled roster.
If Brandon Ingram doesn't lace up, Josh Hart will play the small forward position, like in their last game. Devonte' Graham and Jonas Valanciunas are the bonafide starters who should retain their positions of point guard and center, respectively.
Meanwhile, Nickeil Alexander-Walker will likely play the shooting guard. If Herbert Jones doesn't get cleared from concussion protocol, either Garrett Temple or Naji Marshall will play the power forward. Kira Lewis Jr. and Trey Murphy III are the team's best bench players.
Assuming there are no surprises before the game, Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton has the luxury to choose from the entire lineup for his starting 5.
De'Aaron Fox could start as the point guard, and sophomore Tyrese Haliburton could join him in the backcourt as the two-guard. Buddy Hield and Terrence Davis have been moved to the bench.
Harrison Barnes should continue as the small forward, while Maurice Harkless returns as the power forward. The starting center will likely be Richaun Holmes.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Sacramento Kings: Predicted Starting 5s
New Orleans Pelicans
G - Devonte' Graham | G - Nickeil Alexander-Walker | F - Josh Hart | F - Naji Marshall | C - Jonas Valanciunas.
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G - De'Aaron Fox | G - Tyrese Haliburton | F - Harrison Barnes | F - Maurice Harkless | C - Richaun Holmes.
Q. Who will win?