Oklahoma City Thunder vs Sacramento Kings: Predictions and Odds

The Oklahoma City Thunder

Head Coach: Billy Donovan {All-Time 168-106} The Oklahoma City Thunder are currently third in the West in what seems like an everlasting jockeying for first with the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors. Just 1.5 games ahead of LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers, The Thunder surely want to defeat the lesser Sacramento Kings in order to gain some ground on the Lakers who are nipping at their heels. After a four-game winning streak, the Thunder have gone 3-3. Dropping games against the struggling Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans. Sacramento will be the first of a two-game road trip for the Thunder who only have a .500 record when away from home. The Thunder will be dealing with a young athletic team who can actually match their pace and shooting. De’Aaron Fox is being considered Russell Westbrook-lite so a showing against this young aspiring team will send a message to the NBA for both squads.

The Sacramento Kings

Head Coach: Dave Joerger {All-Time 222-217} The Sacramento Kings are sitting at ninth in the Western Conference and are only a game behind taking the eighth seed from the Dallas Mavericks. On the other hand, the Kings only have a game in hand against the Houston Rockets who can tie for ninth with a win. In the last five matches the Sacramento Kings have gone 3-2, gaining wins against who should be weaker teams in the Bulls, Timberwolves, and Mavericks, but losing to the elite in the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors. It is a learning lesson for the young Kings, they are improved but are not yet near the top. The Kings team balance is what is helping them succeed. With a contentious owner and questionable draft decisions, it is certainly a welcome change to see the Kings succeed. The team has a tough outing against the Thunder, but it is a stylistic matchup that both teams are certainly prepared to take on.

What’s At Stake?

Since the inception of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the two teams have only met a handful of times. Despite the scarcity in appearances, the Oklahoma City Thunder lead the all-time series against the Sacramento Kings 29-10. Should the Oklahoma City Thunder pull off the win, they would tie for second in the Western Conference with the Golden State Warriors and be only 0.5 games back of the Denver Nuggets for first place. If the Sacramento Kings win the match, they would overcome the Dallas Mavericks for eighth in the Western conference and be 0.5 games back from the Portland Trailblazers in seventh.

Questions to answer

Can the Sacramento Kings’ rebounding keep up? Will the Thunder’s defence as steadfast as always? We are going to compare the Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings in an attempt to see who has the edge in this matchup.

The Thunder can own the Boards

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a team that can absolutely rebound with the best of them. Ranking third in the league in total rebounds (48.1 RPG), the Thunder control possessions by determining who starts the next play. The Thunder tout six players that average over four rebounds per game. From the giant New Zealander Steven Adams (9.8 RPG) to the German speedster Dennis Schroeder (4.1 RPG) the Thunder sport hustle players at every position. Fortunately for the Thunder, the Kings allow the fifth most second chance points per game (14.8). While the Kings have bigs that can rebound, it is more a product of placing and outlet that they obtain their rebounds due to the slender nature of bigs like Cauley-Stein and Bailey. The Thunder can exploit the Kings on the offensive glass and don’t be surprised to see the heavier Kosta Koufos given a chance.

Can the Kings Overcome the Thunder’s Defence

The Oklahoma City Thunder defence is first in the league. They can guard at every position as well as switch one through five should it be necessary. Off of that defence, they have a team that rebounds the ball through every position to get a fast break started. The Kings, like many teams, are ill-equipped to deal with the Thunder’s defensive pressure. One place where the Thunder can succeed though is through their pace. the Kings average the second highest pace in the league (106.69) and will surely look to manufacture as many possessions as possible to score against the Thunder. The Kings do rank nineteenth in assist percentage and as such rely on a lot of one-on-one play to manufacture their points. De’Aaron Fox is a skilled player but against a team as stout defensively as the Thunder his skill will be tested to the limit. The Kings will surely attempt to manufacture open looks, but with solid wing defenders and a rim-protector like Adams in the paint, it’ll be a tough night for the Kings.

Oklahoma City Thunder Roster Notes

G-F Andre Roberson (knee) suffered another setback during rehabilitation and is targeting a January return.

Sacramento Kings Roster Notes

G-F Iman Shumpert (hip) is listed as day-to-day, yet missed Monday’s match due to personal reasons. F-C Marvin Bagley (knee) suffered a bone bruise and will be reevaluated after 10-14 days.

Russell Westbrook Does it All

What should be a shocking all-time performance so far this season, is what seems to be another day at the office as Russell Westbrook continues to average a triple double this season. Averaging 21.1 points per game, 10.0 assists per game, and 10.5 rebounds per game, the world may be taking for granted how great Westbrook has been. This season Westbrook has deferred the scoring load to Paul George. As the teams only playmaker outside of backup Dennis Schroeder, Westbrook’s choice to put the team first has resulted in efficiency increases across the board as seven Thunder players sport and effective field goal percentage over 48%. Defensively Westbrook will have his hands full. Fox is a lightning fast, athletic guard that can shoot it and create for other at will. Frankly speaking, Westbrook is looking at a younger version of himself. It will be exciting to see who succeeds in this match of old-school versus new-school.

De’Aaron Fox is a Young Leader

De’Aaron Fox has improved across the board this season. Averaging 18.5 points per game, 7.5 assists per game, 3.1 rebounds per game, and 1.6 steals per game, Fox has improved in every measured category so far this season. A part of it is surely comfort as Fox’s rookie season was turbulent due to injury as well as strife in the Kings front office. Now that the team is being put first and Fox has had a taste of an NBA season, he seems primed for a breakout year and is leading the Sacramento Kings to a chance at the playoffs. Fox is a passable defender but at 6’3 175 lbs he is certainly a lightweight in the NBA, even at the point guard position. The Thunder are surely going to try to take advantage of his size at the point of attack so it is up to Fox to hold the first line of defence against the vicious Thunder offence.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Sacramento Kings Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Oklahoma City Thunder favoured over the Sacramento Kings by 4.5, with an over/under of 110.