Five Kings observations from release

Five Kings observations from release

Five takeaways from Kings’ 2022-23 NBA schedule release originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Let the countdown to basketball begin.

As of Wednesday’s schedule release, there are 63 days remaining until the Kings open the 2022-23 NBA season with a home matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers.

As Kings fans circle dates on their calendars in anticipation of big matchups, here are five takeaways from the first glance at the 2022-23 schedule release:

Hali’s return to Sactown

It will be an emotional return to Sacramento for Tyrese Haliburton when the Indiana Pacers visit Golden 1 Center on Nov. 30.

Haliburton, the No. 12 overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, was a fan favorite among the Kings faithful until he was traded along with Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson in the blockbuster Domantas Sabonis deal.

After the trade, Haliburton faced the Kings on March 23 in Indiana and posted a double-double with 13 points and 15 assists. But a return to Golden 1 Center likely will bring another level of emotions.

In July, Haliburton shared that any initial disgruntled feelings towards the Sacramento front office after being traded are completely separate from his warm feelings towards Kings fans.

“With the fans forever. That’s not a question,” Haliburton told FOX40’s Sean Cunningham after the trade. “My feeling toward the organization and the fans are completely different. It is what it is.”

On the flip side of that trade, Sabonis didn’t play in that Kings-Pacers clash in March. Instead, he will get his first chance to play at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in a Kings uniform when Sacramento heads to Indiana on Feb. 3.

Here come the Murray comparisons

Leading up to the 2022 NBA Draft, two names emerged as the favorites to wind up going to Sacramento at No. 4 Overall – Iowa’s Keegan Murray and Purdue’s Jaden Ivey.

The pick, of course, wound up being Murray, who already looks the part of the fourth pick after being named MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League.

But the names Murray and Ivey will be forever intertwined in NBA circles after Ivey went one pick after Murray, No. 5 overall, to the Detroit Pistons. Whenever one player goes off, especially early in the season, the other will definitely hear of it.

Murray and Ivey will go head-to-head for the first time Nov. 20 when the Pistons travel to Golden 1 Center.

Elsewhere in notable rookie clashes, Murray and the Kings will square off against Paolo Banchero, the top pick of the 2022 draft, and the Orlando Magic on the eighth game of the season Nov. 5. Banchero and the Magic will be in Sacramento on Jan 9.

Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 pick by the Oklahoma City Thunder, will visit Sacramento on Jan. 20, and No. 3 pick Jabari Smith and the Rockets are in Sactown for two games in a three-day span Jan 11-13.

Old friends, new foes

Newly appointed Kings coach Mike Brown, who served as the Golden State Warriors’ lead assistant for the past six seasons before being hired by Sacramento in May, won’t have to wait long for his first clash against former co-worker Steve Kerr.

The Kings’ third game of the season is scheduled for Oct. 23 against the defending champion Warriors at Chase Center in San Francisco. In fact, the Kings face the Warriors three times in their first 12 games.

“It’s a loss for us, but this is how it’s supposed to work,” Kerr said of the Kings hiring Brown from Golden State. “You want people who are really talented on your staff who can come in and contribute and have a great experience, and hopefully learn and grow at the same time. And then hopefully be able to advance careers and move on to something that that person wants.”

Tough start

Sacramento will play four of its first five games at home, and with their first road test being in San Francisco, the Kings won’t leave the state of California until a Halloween clash against the Charlotte Hornets.

However, the opponents early in the year present a difficult challenge for the Kings’ hopeful hot start.

Six of the Kings’ first 12 opponents won a playoff series last year, two of the six teams that didn’t are the Los Angeles Clippers — expected to be a contender this season with the return of Kawhi Leonard — and the rival Los Angeles Lakers, who are always a tough matchup despite their shortcomings last season.

The finish to the regular-season schedule also has its challenges, as five of Sacramento’s final seven games are on the road. Then, the Kings will wrap things up with three straight tilts against expected playoff teams in the Dallas Mavericks, Warriors, and Denver Nuggets.

Tough road trip

The longest road trip of the year for Sacramento will be a seven-game trek from Jan. 28 to Feb. 8.

It begins in chilly Minnesota for two games in three days on Jan. 28 and Jan. 30 before the Kings head south to play the San Antonio Spurs, Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Houston Rockets (twice).

Sacramento will go 12 days between home games in that stretch, and the team only has three home tilts on its schedule in February.